Vertical Burn

Front Cover
Random House Publishing Group, Mar 4, 2003 - Fiction - 416 pages
2 Reviews
Earl Emerson is the poet laureate of men and women who make their living where the heat is, bringing to life the terror of a burning building and the moments of solitude, solace, and camaraderie that happen in between. Now, Emerson has written a mesmerizing novel of suspense about a man who goes into a fire as a hero and a friend, and comes out as an outcast–and a target.


Twenty-eight paces. John Finney counted his steps as he fought his way for help from inside a Seattle warehouse burning on Leary Way. And when he reached his rescuers, he told them where his partner lay waiting–twenty-eight paces away. But they didn’t reach Finney’s partner until the building had cooled.

Now, six months after that tragic day, no one remembers Finney giving the directions that pinpointed his partner’s position. No one can remember anything about Finney except that he left his friend to die. For Finney, the son of a fire chief, losing his reputation and the trust of his fellow firefighters is a bitter blow. But Finney doesn’t believe the fire was an accident. And he doesn’t believe the campaign against him is one either.

Trying to reconstruct the events at Leary Way, Finney uncovers suspicious actions by men at the scene. With only one person on his side–a female firefighter who is herself an outcast in the department–Finney begins to piece together an astounding conspiracy that will turn friends into suspects, good men into conspirators, and every man inside the department into a potentially deadly enemy. And the most horrific fire is yet to burn.

From the terrifying darkness of a smoke-engulfed room to the politics that plays out behind closed doors, Earl Emerson captures with passion and pathos the life and times of the men and women dedicated to the service. In Vertical Burn he fuses his feeling for real-life heroes with a white-hot tale of suspense and betrayal– the kind of betrayal that burns bodies, burns a city, and burns a soul forever.

From the Hardcover edition.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - booklover3258 - LibraryThing

What a great book! Chapters were short so it seemed to be a fast read. Basically, the hero, John Finney, is a great firefighter but someone wants to get a lot of money by setting buildings on fire and ... Read full review

Vertical burn

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Emerson's 24 years as a Seattle firefighter and the assurance gained from writing 11 previous novels merge into a complex tale of smoke, flame, and murder. After John Finney, a second-generation ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Earl Emerson is a lieutenant in the Seattle Fire Department. He is the Shamus Award—winning author of 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 edition.

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