Author Suzanne Chazin, a member of the International Association of Arson Investigators, has unusual access to the inner workings of the New York City Fire Department. Her husband is a high-ranking chief and a 20-year veteran of the department, and her research includes interviews with many of its members. Flashover, her second electrifying thriller, is dedicated to the 343 members of the FDNY who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
In this follow-up to her well-received debut effort, The Fourth Angel, Chazen continues the adventures of Fire Marshal Georgia Skeehan. This time she's investigating a series of deaths in fires that have reached flashover stage the overwhelming combustion of a room and its contents by simultaneous ignition. What she uncovers leads her into the inner politics and hazards of the fire and police departments. Georgia discovers frightening evidence of greed and deception that are the cause of these recent deaths and perhaps others to come. The trail of clues eventually leads to a blackmailer who wants to blow up an underground New York City gasoline pipeline.
Georgia's career and personal life collide when her best friend, a woman detective with the NYPD, disappears, and the man found in the woman's blood-spattered apartment is Georgia's boyfriend and fellow marshal, Mac Marenko. What keeps her going are her strong family ties to her mother and young son. Chazin's knowledge of pyrotechnics and the machinations of the agencies sworn to protect the public lend an air of authenticity to this fast-paced thriller. Deftly drawn, Flashover's believable characters drive the action to the very last page. But what really captures the reader's attention is the wealth of details about how fires wreak havoc and how they are investigated. The smallest piece of evidence spins a tale as intricately woven as any insect's web, and only the magic of science can unlock its secrets. Firefighting is one of the most frightening jobs imaginable, and the courage and talent of these brave folk are heroically outlined in the novel. Especially after September 11, this is fiction that rings true. Kelly Koepke is a freelance writer and editor in Albuquerque.