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by Pat O'Keeffe
New English Library, June 2004
326 pages
ISBN: 0340820209

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Station Officer Steven Jay is back in London at his old position after having undergone rehabilitation in Wales. One day, while returning to the fire station, he gets involved in a melee involving an Asian (Pakistani) woman who is being beaten by four large men. He follows them to the railroad tracks, when a train intervenes. By the time the train passes, the woman has been beheaded and the men have started to run. He does get a glimpse of one of the men, and thinks he will be able to identify him, even though Jay loses them partway down the tracks.

An Asian religious leader dies while in custody, upsetting the community and a political candidate inflames them further. There is rioting in the streets, mostly directed against the fire brigade and equipment has to be shifted around for optimum coverage. An Asian cinema catches fire and there are many deaths. The community doesn't believe that the firefighters have done their best for the Pakistanis.

Meanwhile, Jay is fighting to maintain a civil relationship with the woman who is carrying his child and trying to help one of his men with serious personal problems. Drugs, racism, arson, and murder are all dealt with in this, the third in the series by firefighter Pat O'Keeffe who shows us that things are the same wherever you are. Change a few names and you could be in New York or Los Angeles or any big city anywhere.

The second book in the series, BURN OUT, in which Jay went to Wales to recover from the incidents in the first book, wasn't as well done as the first, THERMAL IMAGE, which took place in London and had to do with arson in the garment trade. With BLOWTORCH, he is back on form.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, July 2004

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