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Book Review: 'California Fire and Life'

Posted on

California Fire and Life

Current Status:
In Season
Don Winslow

We gave it an A-

Would-be pyromaniacs, wannabe hard-boiled criminals, dedicated literary hipsters — there’s something for everyone in this jazzy California thriller: the Russian Mob, the American dream, and the dazzling allure of fire. Jack Wade is an ex-arson cop who screwed up his life and career when he coerced testimony from a criminal, was exposed in court, and ended up in insurance, investigating fire claims. When a house goes up leaving behind a charred woman’s body, a couple of cigarettes, and some vodka, Jack gets the case — which quickly proves to be not as simple as the first cop on the scene appears to believe. Jack’s verdict is murder, and he homes in on the hubby as the culprit: an oily, smooth-talking antiques collector named Nicky Vale who lives with his mother and was in the midst of divorcing the dead woman. Nicky unfortunately also proves to be not as simple as he at first appears (in fact, he’s pretty deadly), leading Jack deeper and deeper into the twisted case, making him question his past, and even the loyalty of his friends. Think Philip Marlowe if he were still sleuthing — and had taken up surfing. A-