Vertical Burn by Earl Emerson

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 5 Critic 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.

About Earl Emerson

See more books from this Author
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.
Published May 14, 2002 by Ballantine Books. 352 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical, Crime. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Vertical Burn

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Time was when veteran Seattle firefighter John Finney was unequivocal about his feelings for his job.

| Read Full Review of Vertical Burn

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Seattle fireman Emerson, of Shamus Award–winning Thomas Black detective series fame, returns with his 12th novel—a tale of arson, intrigue and sublimated rivalries among Seattle firefig

May 06 2002 | Read Full Review of Vertical Burn

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Finney thinks the fire was arson, but can't prove it—until two other fires erupt under even more suspicious circumstances, killing another one of his partners.

| Read Full Review of Vertical Burn

Book Reporter

Unless one needs emergency treatment, or a hapless male sets fire to his kitchen on Thanksgiving morning while preparing the holiday dinner, one might live their entire lives without coming into direct contact with fire department personnel, basically faceless people who fight fires and, for the ...

Jan 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Vertical Burn

The Best Reviews

In Seattle, veteran firefighters John Finney and Bill Cordifies are searching for trapped people inside a nasty fire at Leary Way when a wall collapses.

Apr 07 2002 | Read Full Review of Vertical Burn

Reader Rating for Vertical Burn

An aggregated and normalized score based on 27 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review