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“American Fire” by Monica Hesse

4.0 out of 4.0 stars.

“People do crazy things for love”

Accomack County, Virginia had no idea that they would spend months sleepless and scared due to an arsonist being on the loose in their sleepy towns. Hundreds and thousands of dollars would be tasked in firefighters, equipment, and fuel to continue to keep everyone safe despite what appeared to be random buildings catching on fire all around them. Luckily, no one was hurt in what would be tallied as 80 fires over a 5 month period. The way the arsonist(s) was able to start the fires so quickly, know their way around the town, and be left undetected makes the citizens believe it could be a local. This county was a place where people were either lifers or visitors. There was no in-between. In the case of these almost 100 fires, it seemed like it had to be a lifer, and that made everyone a suspect, even if you had known someone for decades. Very eery.

I have actually never seen a house burn down before (thank goodness) but I learned an incredible amount from this book about arsonists, firefighters, psychology, and love. Also at times, by Monica Hesse’s descriptions, I could almost feel the burning hot air on my skin. It was like I was experiencing all the accounts first hand. The common denominator for all of factors in this story was emotion. This was not a typical scenario of someone wanting to get revenge on a town that screwed him/her over and trying to destroy it. As a reader, I am glad it wasn’t because that would be too straight forward and obvious. This book certainly kept me on my toes and proved not everything is what it seems.

If you love true crime, you will LOVE this. I am glad no one was hurt because it makes me feel less guilty for enjoying this book so much.

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