Cover image for Fire lover
Fire lover
Wambaugh, Joseph.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Waterville, ME : Thorndike Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
655 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
Originally published: New York : W. Morrow, 2002.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6638.5.U6 W36 2002B Adult Large Print - Floating collection Floating Collection - Large Print

On Order



From the acclaimed bestselling author of "The Onion Field" comes the extraordinary true story of a California arson investigator and fire captain who was also, according to government profilers, the most prolific American arsonist of the 20th century.

Author Notes

Writer Joseph Wambaugh was born in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 22, 1937. He joined the Marines right out of high school, but later earned both a B. A. and M. A. from California State College in Los Angeles.

He worked for the Los Angeles Police Department from 1960 to 1974.

His first novel was The New Centurions (1971) and several subsequent novels have been award winners. The Onion Field won an Edgar Award (1984), and Lines and Shadows won the Rodolfo Walsh Prize from the International Association of Crime Writers (1989). He has worked creatively on several film and television projects, including Police Story, The Black Marble, The Choirboys and The Blue Knight.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Former LAPD detective sergeant and best-selling author Wambaugh, author of the classic true crime story The Onion Field (1973), returns to nonfiction with the shocking story of John Orr, an arson investigator who was also "the most prolific American arsonist of the twentieth century." A wanna-be cop, Orr settled for a position as a fireman with the Glendale, California, Fire Department, working up to arson investigator and eventually to fire captain in 1990. Along the way, he caught several arsonists, but there was one perpetrator whom no one could track down, a serial arsonist who was wreaking havoc on Southern California. Even Orr, who had become one of the region's most noted arson investigators, seemed to have no answers--until a piece of an incendiary device from a thwarted 1991 fire turned up with a fingerprint on it. The thousands of records in the criminal databanks elicited no match, but a broader search led to an unfathomable conclusion: the architect of the explosive was none other than Orr himself. This revelation turns the book from an investigative story to a psychological profile of John Orr as an investigator, criminal, psychopath, and man. Wambaugh's painstaking research, which included interviews with law-enforcement officers, survivors, and victims' families, is astonishing. Given the fascination with firefighters since September 11, this saga of a firefighter gone bad should provoke great interest and possibly even some controversy. --Mary Frances Wilkens

Publisher's Weekly Review

Returning to print after a six-year hiatus, former LAPD detective sergeant and bestselling author Wambaugh (The Onion Field, etc.) focuses on firefighters rather than his usual police beat. It's a surprising switch, but Wambaugh's regular readers will not be disappointed, since sparks fly throughout this potent probe into the life of arson investigator John Leonard Orr. Fascinated by fires in his L.A. childhood, Orr learned fire fighting in the air force. An eccentric loner with few friends and a womanizer with a string of failed marriages, he was rejected by the LAPD and LAFD. In 1974 he joined the Glendale Fire Department, where his gun-toting, crime-crusading capers earned him the label "cop wanna-be" from both police and firemen. Rising in the ranks, Orr became well-known as an arson sleuth. He had a sixth sense for tracking pyros, but there was one serial arsonist, responsible for the deaths of four, who remained elusive. In 1990, during the worst fire in Glendale's history, some noted that Orr's behavior "seemed very peculiar." That same year, Orr was appointed fire captain and began writing a "fact-based novel" about a serial arsonist who turns out to be a firefighter and in it Orr revealed certain facts about the unsolved arson case that he couldn't have known through his work. Was Orr the serial arsonist? Wambaugh recreates these events for a suspenseful, adrenaline-rush account of what one profiler dubbed "probably the most prolific American arsonist" of the 20th century. (May 14) Forecast: Wambaugh's name should sell this title, aided by the scheduling of an HBO movie about Orr (starring Ray Liotta) to run only a few weeks after the publication of the book. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A tale of two men a respected fire chief and a prolific arsonist who turned out to be one and the same. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.