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You only need to read a page of FIREPLAY to recognize and
appreciate how excellent a writer Suzanne Chazin has become. She
has been impressive from the beginning --- so impressive that it is
hard to believe that THE FOURTH ANGEL was a debut novel and harder
still to believe that FIREPLAY is only her third. But by the time
you're six pages or so into FIREPLAY, you'll realize, like the
characters in the book, that there is no turning back.

Chazin skillfully accomplishes a number of things in this first
chapter. Chazin puts you in the middle of a firefighting situation,
standing right next to three of New York's Bravest as they walk
into a mess that they did not create but that they must nonetheless
contain, control and eliminate. Chazin does more than describe the
scene --- she creates a sense of impending doom, with accompanying
suspense; she makes the readers care about the characters within
just a couple of sentences; and she brings the readers directly
into a situation that they can identify with, even though the
overwhelming majority of them are unfamiliar with it. However, this
is not a gratuitous scene thrown in merely to hook the reader
(although it does that, oh yes indeed). It sets the tone of the
entire novel and has repercussions that echo on practically every
page, from beginning to end.

The main hero of FIREPLAY, as with THE FOURTH ANGEL and FLASHOVER,
is New York City Fire Marshal Georgia Skeehan. Skeehan is brought
in to investigate the fire that takes place at the beginning of
FIREPLAY, a fire that causes minimal property damage to a swank
restaurant but that results in the deaths of two firefighters. It
quickly becomes evident that the fire is arson and is tied to an
enigmatic character named Michael McLoughlin, a.k.a. Freezer.
Skeehan and her partner, Randy Carter, practically have McLoughlin
dead to rights, but McLoughlin is under the protection of the FBI,
which is using him to defuse an environmentalist terrorist

Skeehan is frustrated enough with her inability to bring in a man
who was responsible for the deaths of two firefighters, but her
frustration increases one hundredfold when she learns that there is
a connection between McLoughlin and a fire that occurred decades
ago and that took the life of her firefighter father. This
knowledge makes Skeehan more determined than ever to get
McLoughlin, even as she is forced to work undercover with him in
order to thwart a terrorist act that the environmentalists are
planning. Things become even more complicated, however, when she
discovers that there is another person working with terrorists: the
father of her son. And that, believe it or not, is only the
beginning of the surprises that occur from the beginning to the end
of this fine novel --- including one, near the end, that you'll
never see coming.

There are, for whatever reasons, very few writers currently mining
the area of fire investigation as a source for suspense novels.
Chazin is very well on her way to making her name synonymous with
this sub-genre; it is quickly becoming obvious, however, that she
would be at the front of the pack no matter what area she chooses
to labor in. FIREPLAY and Chazin are not to be missed.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

by Suzanne Chazin

  • Publication Date: May 26, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0399150536
  • ISBN-13: 9780399150531