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Novels about firefighters are receiving some new and well-deserved
attention. They've always been there, getting some below the radar
notice, but nothing really major, and nothing such as some of them
deserved. Since the attack on September 11, 2001, however, that has
changed. As Suzanne Chazin points out in her Acknowledgments for
her new novel, FLASHOVER, it is estimated that the 343 members of
the Fire Department of the City of New York who perished saved an
estimated 25,000 citizens. There is, perhaps, a need to become
closer, however vicariously, to these individuals, to these souls
who run toward the disasters from which we flee.

FLASHOVER is Chazin's second novel concerning FDNY Fire Marshal
Georgia Skeehan; its sophomore status belies the strong, confident
voice used to tell this tale of revenge and misplaced justice. It
begins with Skeehan's investigation into two separate deaths caused
by fires. It quickly becomes clear to Georgia that the deaths are
related; both victims are physicians who in the past had been
instrumental in denying line-of-duty benefits to disabled
firefighters. Her investigation slowly begins to uncover far more
motive than simple revenge, however. When she begins to feel as if
she is making progress, she is thwarted not only by the passage of
time but also by the city government and her superiors. Skeehan is
further stymied when her best friend, Connie Ruiz, disappears from
her own apartment, and Skeehan's boyfriend and fellow fire marshal,
Mac Marenko, is found at the scene. Betrayal, on both a personal
and professional level, is everywhere. And when the arsonist, known
only as Robin Hood, holds New York City for ransom, Skeehan is the
only one who can solve the twisted mystery, concealed for decades,
that is about to light the conflagration in the present.

FLASH OVER is a compelling second effort, perfectly paced,
meticulously plotted, and expertly constructed. Those who believe
they are clever --- like this reviewer --- will think they have the
solution to the mystery of the identity of Robin Hood by
FLASHOVER's halfway point. Those who are truly clever will withhold
judgment. Both sets of readers will be surprised. Chazin is
familiar with her territory --- her husband and father-in-law are
among the ranks, past and present, of New York's Bravest. This
explains in part how she has come to know the inner workings of the
FDNY --- indefatigable research accounts for the rest --- but the
time, talent, and sweat so obviously poured into this labor of love
are Chazin's alone. FLASHOVER will undoubtedly cause a clamor for
more of Skeehan, and for more from Chazin.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

by Suzanne Chazin

  • Publication Date: May 13, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0399148507
  • ISBN-13: 9780399148507