The Fourth Angel

Suzanne Chazin, Author Putnam Adult $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-14705-0
First-time novelist Chazin dramatizes her husband's real-life firefighting vocation in what Putnam is eagerly touting as a new series, with the adage, ""He fights them, she writes them."" At the start of this straightforward first thriller, fire marshal and single mom Georgia Skeehan is shanghaied onto the fire commissioner's special task force to investigate a string of suspicious, superhot fires so destructive they can melt steel and fuse concrete into glass. Thrown headlong into the cutthroat world of New York Fire Department politics, Skeehan (the lone female firefighter in the department) spunkily stands up to her sneering male colleagues and gives them something to chew on when she unearths evidence of a coverup connected to the fires within the department. Unassisted by her kvetching, retirement-age partner, she networks with contacts within the firefighting community, from Jimmy Gallagher, the strapping smoke-eater whom her live-in mother is dating, to Walter Frankel, a wheelchair-bound forensics expert. Is the arsonist really an FDNY employee, or is a slick, philanthropic real estate millionaire involved? Skeehan's worst fears are confirmed when a blaze engulfs a building next to a firehouse while all its firefighters are getting sloshed at a keg party off-premises. Her contacts begin turning up dead, and she herself becomes a target. Chazin's depiction of the rough Irish-Italian world of the FDNY is informative, and her descriptions of a superhot fire's potential for destruction in crowded New York City are frighteningly vivid. Her gradual revelation of a harrowing event in Georgia's past is convincing and makes up for more shallow portraits of supporting characters. With time and seasoning, Skeehan could prove to be a refreshing new face in the growing legion of female investigators. Agent, Matt Bialer. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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