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Vertical Burn Mass Market Paperback – 2 Apr 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 390 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books Inc.; mass market ed edition (2 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345445902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345445902
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.6 x 17.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,790,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Earl Emerson is the author of the Shamus Award winning Thomas Black detective series. This is a series that concentrates quite heavily on the characters in the story and their development throughout the series as well as providing well-plotted mysteries. With VERTICAL BURN, Emerson has gone for a more action-oriented story, relying on his intimate knowledge of the fire brigade and fire fighting to enthuse his audience. To a large extent it works, the adrenaline charged brushes with death while combating a fire provide the story’s high points, no questions asked.
The story’s protagonist is John Finney, a fireman of considerable experience with the Seattle Fire Department. The book gets off to a furious start when Finney’s company is called out to a fire and when they arrive they are faced with a large building full of smoke with the possibility of victims trapped inside and no backup because all other crews are busy, called out to various alarms, both real and false. During their search of the building, Finney and his partner become trapped by a collapsed wall with the final result seeing Finney barely escape with his life, but his partner dying in the fire.
The fallout from this tragedy is substantial for Finney both emotionally and physically. Apart from losing his partner and mentor, he suffers some pretty serious burns from the fire, but worse, he knows that in the eyes of his fellow firemen he is to blame for his partner’s death. Due to memory loss thanks to the smoke inhalation he suffered, he can’t be sure himself whether or not he was to blame.
A second fire results in a similar outcome to the first.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 29 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VERTICAL BURN SIZZLES! 28 May 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Vertical Burn, the latest from Earl Emerson was well worth the wait. Although initially disappointed to hear it was not a Mac Fontana or a Thomas Black book, that disappointment faded before I finished the first page. His knowledge of fire fighting and his own experiences over the years all lend credibility to this intense and suspensful story. John Finney is a character you can not only like, but respect. Mr. Emerson shows a whole new dimension to his talent in this book. Earl Emerson books have always been at the top of my list, and VERTICAL BURN tops them all. Now the whining starts again as the wait for his next book begins!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page burner 24 July 2002
By Charlotte Vale-Allen - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When Carol Burnett was just starting out, she appeared on Talk of the Town (later called The Ed Sullivan show) and sang a song titled, "I Saw Every Movie That Ann Sheridan Ever Made." Well, I've read every book Earl Emerson has ever written. And Vertical Burn is well worth the long wait.
This stand-alone novel is one of those books that will keep you reading well into the early hours of the morning, turning the pages and absorbing the details of the action as quickly as possible. It's literally a can't-put-down book.
Given his background as a firefighter, Emerson brings a vast wealth of knowledge to this tale of the youngest firefighter in the family who slowly realizes he is being framed to take the fall for starting several horrific fires, two of them resulting in the deaths of his partners at the time.
This is a meticulously well-plotted book (which explains why it was three years in the writing) with no strings left dangling; some mad and wicked and greedy villains and a climactic high-rise fire scene that will leave you breathless.
As always, Emerson writes with a certain lyricism and with no excess fat; his characters are fully developed with very real, very human strengths and weaknesses. The narrative pacing is in top gear all the way through. It is an enormously entertaining book, even if the conspiracy at its core is a tad hard to believe.
Highly recommended.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Milestone in You-Are-THERE! Suspense! 2 Jun. 2002
By Eleanor V. Miller - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If there can be a literary equivalent to cinema verite, no one is better qualified than Earl Emerson to immerse his readers in the life and death realities of the world of professional firefighting. In VERTICAL BURN, Emerson, a twenty-four year veteran of the Seattle Fire Department, gives us a graphic and gritty, warts-and-all, microcosmic vision of that world...its daily routines, terrible stresses, moments of glory and seen through the eyes of his hero, John Finney, who has dedicated his own life and honor to his profession only to find himself at the mercy of a political/criminal cabal that threatens the one and would tarnish the other. Branded a coward and denied promotion after the (to him) inexplicable death of his long-time friend and partner in a questionable fire and sensing a cover-up, Finney starts his own investigation into its circumstances and uncovers evidence of a horrifying pattern of arson for profit being executed with diabolic ingenuity, apparently aided and abetted from within the department itself. Talk about smoke and mirrors! No one except his fellow firefighter Diana Moore is willing to take him seriously when he predicts that there will be more fires, and when his worst fears are realized, he is again demonized by the political powers-that-be as a glory-seeker and an arsonist. Helpless to prevent the initiation of the arsonists' final scenario, his focus narrows to putting his own life on the line to save those of hundreds as the novel culminates in a stunning confrontation between deadly treachery and death-defying heroism high in the skies above Seattle.
VERTICAL BURN is the ultimate in you-are-there suspense fiction. Although its premise seems almost unbelievably horrific in the abstract, Mr. Emerson's skillful craftsmanship...his superb pacing and vivid characterizations...quickly caught me up in the story that he had to tell and made me completely willing to suspend my own disbelief that such things actually could be and simply accept as real his world wherein they well might and apparently do happen. Especially set in juxtaposition to the events of 9/11, I found living in that world an immensely moving and enormously satisfying reading experience.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good author gets even better! 1 July 2002
By Naomi Johnson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Other reviews will give you the plot. I will add that Emerson creates vivid, breathing, flawed human beings whose thoughts and feelings and actions interest me, and none more so than firefighter John Finney. This book is begging to be made into a movie!
As for another reviewer's remark that Emerson wrote this book to cash in on 9/11, that's an unjustified accusation of his character. This book was probably already in the publisher's hands by 9/11, or near enough to, in order to be galleyed and proofed, and a book tour planned, for an April/May release.
I'm glad to see Emerson's publisher is finally throwing some weight into supporting one of his books. With a little PR this guy could be on the bestseller lists in another book or two. And IMHO, it's long overdue.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vertical Burn is a HOT thriller! 26 July 2002
By CheyWillow - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Being a diehard Earl Emerson fan, I looked forward to this book with both avid anticipation and some measure of doubt. Anticipation, because Emerson is a born storyteller/writer and student of human nature--his series characters (Thomas Black and Mac Fontana) are completely believable and engaging, unlike so many mystery book characters who are promoters of the plot, not 'living' people involved in it. Doubt, because VERTICAL BURN is a stand alone book, and I feared that characterization might suffer in favor of action/thriller themes. No need to worry on that score--the lead characters in VB are drawn with Emerson's fine artist's hand, and you come to care about their lives and situational hazards almost immediately. That Emerson is a 24-year veteran of firefighting lends veracity to the plot and action--this writer KNOWS his stuff, and carries you with him into the most terrifying and tension-filled treatment of firefighting I've **ever** read. That the end highrise fire immediately brings to mind the tragedy of 9/11 is both disconcerting and fascinating; I feel now that I understand so much more about what happened in the WTC towers on that awful day. But VB is NOT based on 9/11 (was written long before)and reveals WHY every fireman's worst nightmare is battling a highrise fire. I promise--VERTICAL BURN will have you trembling with tension, and if you can sleep peacefully after completing it, you will have managed the aftereffects better than I. This is a terrific book. You'll be scrambling to find other Emerson books and, like me, you'll be eagerly awaiting his next!
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