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Pyro

Cover of Pyro

Pyro

A Novel of Suspense
In his pulse-pounding thrillers, Earl Emerson takes readers into the heart of the world's most dangerous profession, where the next alarm might bring sudden death. Based on stunning, actual events in the author's life, this electrifying new novel is a frightening duel between a Seattle firefighter and a man who wants to burn him down. . . .

To a firefighter, there's nothing worse than a nuisance arsonist. His multiple fires keep a station up at night, running in circles, and more vulnerable at the next "real" call. And in Seattle, Lt. Paul Wollf of the Station Six's ladder truck hates a pyro more than most. Two decades before, an arsonist's fire killed Wolff's firefighter father, sending his mother into a spiral of depression and triggering a chain of events that left his brother in jail for murder and Wollf alone, seething in anger and isolation.

Already disciplined for punching out a superior officer, Wollf is now taking a young female firefighter under his wing. Despite the stationhouse leers and jokes, Wollf is only doing what comes naturally, helping out an underdog and bucking the system. But soon he and Cindy Rideout find themselves in a fierce political battle inside the department, just as a pyro starts to turn Seattle into his private little hell.

With fires springing up across the city, Wollf begins to see a pattern. The fires being set are coming closer and closer to Station Six. And when a crucial piece of evidence turns up, Wollf suspects the unthinkable: this pyro has turned him into a fiery target.

In Paul Wollf, Earl Emerson has created a hero on the brink. For when the pyro's rampage puts Wollf in the public limelight, Wollf must choose between his burning rage and the chance to step back--for once--and see a shocking truth hidden beyond the heat.

From the Hardcover edition.
In his pulse-pounding thrillers, Earl Emerson takes readers into the heart of the world's most dangerous profession, where the next alarm might bring sudden death. Based on stunning, actual events in the author's life, this electrifying new novel is a frightening duel between a Seattle firefighter and a man who wants to burn him down. . . .

To a firefighter, there's nothing worse than a nuisance arsonist. His multiple fires keep a station up at night, running in circles, and more vulnerable at the next "real" call. And in Seattle, Lt. Paul Wollf of the Station Six's ladder truck hates a pyro more than most. Two decades before, an arsonist's fire killed Wolff's firefighter father, sending his mother into a spiral of depression and triggering a chain of events that left his brother in jail for murder and Wollf alone, seething in anger and isolation.

Already disciplined for punching out a superior officer, Wollf is now taking a young female firefighter under his wing. Despite the stationhouse leers and jokes, Wollf is only doing what comes naturally, helping out an underdog and bucking the system. But soon he and Cindy Rideout find themselves in a fierce political battle inside the department, just as a pyro starts to turn Seattle into his private little hell.

With fires springing up across the city, Wollf begins to see a pattern. The fires being set are coming closer and closer to Station Six. And when a crucial piece of evidence turns up, Wollf suspects the unthinkable: this pyro has turned him into a fiery target.

In Paul Wollf, Earl Emerson has created a hero on the brink. For when the pyro's rampage puts Wollf in the public limelight, Wollf must choose between his burning rage and the chance to step back--for once--and see a shocking truth hidden beyond the heat.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One Life has been a rocky road since that morning nineteen years ago when my brother and I killed Alfred. For want of a better term, the police said Alfred was our mother's boyfriend, but we never thought of him as anything but an interloper, not until the moment Neil and I found our sneakers stuck to the floor in his blood.

    The morning of the murders my brother was eight days shy of his thirteenth birthday. I was ten.

    The papers called it an execution-style slaying, and it was partially due to their distorted portrayal of the event that my brother was tried and sentenced and packed away to a long series of increasingly harsher juvenile detention facilities. We made some mistakes that morning. Not that, given the same circumstances, we wouldn't kill Alfred again. Because we would.

    In later years, our memories pasted over with hope and optimism, we decided that last drunken squabble between our mother and Alfred T. Osbourne started because Mother had been on the cusp of throwing him out. Maybe she'd found the gumption to do so. We certainly wanted to believe it. She'd never be able to tell us, since she died that morning too.

    We had thought life was about as bad as it could get until Alfred and his stinky feet and seminal flashes of madness came along. He was meaner than a boot full of barbed wire, and more often than not Neil was the object of this meanness. It was a testament to Neil's courage that he didn't run away.

    "I'm not leaving him with you and Mother. That is not an option. You just remember where we keep Uncle Oren's Spanish Civil War revolver if we ever need it."

    "I know where."

    When she wasn't drinking, our mother was too fragile to look out for the family, and when she was drinking, she was too drunk. Neil was the one who looked out for us. He'd been in that role for years.

    It was mystifying how our mother ended up with two men of such differing temperaments as Alfred and our father, but then, she had always been a sucker for a uniform. Our father had been a Seattle firefighter; Alfred, a former King County cop, although by the time we met him, he'd traveled a good distance downslope and was working as a part-time piano mover.

    There are things people never recover from, and for Emma Grant Wollf, it was the on-duty death of her husband six years earlier at an arson fire. Some people bend with adversity. Others break. Our mother fell solidly into the latter camp.

    During those years after my father died, our mother struggled with a string of minimum-wage jobs that seemed to disappear as quickly as the gin she spilled on the carpet, the three of us moving into and out of a dozen apartments and as many schools in half as many years. It wasn't long before she began going through men as fast as she went through jobs, hooking up with a series of drunks she met in bars and, in one case, at the driver's license bureau. Mom met Alfred in the Blue Moon Tavern. She frequented the Blue Moon because it was close to the University of Washington campus and she'd heard a rumor that published poets hung out there.

    Despite the cataclysmic change it produced in our lives, or perhaps because of it, that last morning together was so vaguely installed in memory, I found it difficult to bring back details. Odd, considering how much time I spend thinking about the past.

    My brother Neil ended up celebrating his thirteenth birthday in the youth detention center off East Alder, where he became an immediate celebrity in that palace of losers and lost souls, the only thirteen-year-old in the United States to have slain a former cop. "People leave me alone," he told me during a visit. "They're afraid of...
About the Author-
  • Earl Emerson is a lieutenant in the Seattle Fire Department. He is the Shamus Award--winning author of Vertical Burn and Into the Inferno, as well as the Thomas Black detective series, which includes The Rainy City, Poverty Bay, Nervous Laughter, Fat Tuesday, Deviant Behavior, Yellow Dog Party, The Portland Laugher, The Vanishing Smile, The Million-Dollar Tattoo, Deception Pass, and Catfish Café. He lives in North Bend, Washington.

    From the Hardcover...

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    Random House Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.
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