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by Pat O'Keeffe
Hodder & Stoughton, February 2003
448 pages
$6.99 GPB
ISBN: 0340820187

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Leading firefighter Steven Jay is on leave after the events of the first book in the series, THERMAL IMAGE. It is suggested that he sign himself into a trauma therapy unit in Wales at Ty Hiraeth, for some counseling. As he drives across the bridge on the approach to the unit, first he sees a strange looking man at the other end of the bridge and then a runner, with burn scars on one side of his face, passes him. Jay sees flames and drives toward them. When he gets to the burning house, he enters to look for people. He crawls up the stairs and finds a person who he drags out only to find that the man has had his throat cut. He checks the man's pockets and discovers that he was Hugh Jones, a surveyor.

CID DS John Vaughn finally appears, gets Steven's story, and makes sure that he checks into Ty Hiraeth. He meets the other 5 men currently in residence, all of whom are suffering from a trauma that causes them not to be able to fulfill their obligations. Steve lost his leading firefighter to backdraft at the same time as he was having trouble with his wife, who left him for someone else, then returned, just as he was getting used to being without her. Jay left her this time, rather than allow her to leave him again.

The murdered man had been surveying for gold. Eco-Watch, an organization which monitors pollution in Wales is against the open pit mine the multinational corporation wants to put in this area, in exchange for an industrial park and some low income housing. The group wants the housing and office space, but not the environmental destruction that the mines would bring.

Then a large forest fire breaks out nearby and Steven Jay and the handyman, Bryn Thomas, a retired firefighter go in and volunteer to help. It is a very hot fire and some of the soldiers who had been brought in to help, are killed. Jay and Bryn escape with only a few minor burns, but Thomas is placed on leave for 2 weeks. Jay returns to London and to his job. Shortly after he returns, a large building blows up on his patch, and that disaster brings him back to Wales to investigate.

This book comes alive when the author describes firefighters and their job but the intervening passages are not as compelling as was THERMAL IMAGE. Perhaps it is just sophomore-itis. I'll try the next one and hope that he returns to the standard he set for himself in the first book.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, May 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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