California Fire and Life

California Fire and Life

Book - 1999
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Jack Wade, a claims adjuster for California Fire and Life Mutual Insurance Company, is one of the best arson investigators around. He's a man who knows fire, who can read the traces it leaves behind like a roadmap. When he's called in to examine an unusual claim, the tracks of the fire tell him that something's wrong. So wrong that he violates his own cardinal rule--"You don't get personal, you don't get emotional. Whatever you do, you don't get involved"--and plunges into the case. Real estate mogul Nicky Vale's house is one of the most valuable properties on this stretch of the Southern California gold coast--large, luxurious, crammed with antiques, set on a nice piece of land with a perfect ocean view. After a disastrous blaze tears through a wing of the house, it's only normal that Vale would file an insurance claim. But a $3 million claim is rarely normal, especially not when it's filed within hours of the horrific death of the owner's young and beautiful wife. The County Sheriff's Department investigator, Brian "Accidentally" Bentley, has declared the fire, well, accidental--caused by Mrs. Vale's passing out in bed with a bottle of vodka and a lit cigarette--although a careful look at the evidence points to something more sinister. When Jack begins his investigation, he draws on his skill, experience and sheer stubbornness to uncover the truth of what's going on, but each step leads him further into a situation that's becoming increasingly dangerous. Soon arson is the least of Jack's worries, as the case grows to involve the Russian mob, Vietnamese gangs, real estate scams, counterfeiting and corporate corruption. In addition, Jack's forced to confront his own ghosts, including a fatal professional error, and to cope with the sudden reentry into his life of the best thing that ever happened to him: Letitia del Rio, a Sheriff's deputy whose bombshell looks are exceeded only by her smarts and guts. As the investigation spins out of control, Jack finds himself pulled so far in that he might not make it out. His outrageous behavior and defiant integrity, usually about as helpful to him as third-degree burns, may now be the only things that will keep the investigation--and Jack himself--from being snuffed out.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780679454311
Branch Call Number: MYSTERY Winslow Don
Characteristics: 337 p. ;,25 cm.


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Apr 01, 2020

Winslow is a great writer. His characters are real--flawed, mean, greedy and yet can also be honorable.

Jul 13, 2017

I remember cowering in the corner with a yuge text book covering my head and neck at Eugene Field Elementary School drilling for the Red Scare. The perfect example of Chomsky's manufacturing consent was the media blitz/sales pitch by beloved General Colin Powell in his world tour disclosing new and inaccurate intelligence about yellow cake and other evidence against Iraq. His PR team was genius and effective with fear tactics and classic lines delivered like a dramatic film script like the mushroom cloud in New York City. It's sad to see the loose definition of "evil" change depending on your nationalistic, political or religious views. Suddenly new politicians and countries become the "bad" guys. Nations that were at the core of evil suddenly become allies gaining military secrets because they have the money and oil. Evil is simply a construct made up by those in power to control and scare the masses into human atrocities. In reality we are all evil and all also contain good qualities. We all cosign and participate in the demise of the planet, poisoning soil and water, destroying the rain forests, charging phones for useless apps and games and social media and exchange real community for the augmented reality of the web. I put this book down a few years ago losing interest in the minutia of fire school, insurance details, construction and surfing. Turns out, kind of like Iraq, Russia, Syria and most things in life I was wrong. This book was amazing and looks at the underbelly of mankind and makes one realize that every man has his price and some of us come quite cheap. But in the end the truth is you have to follow your own personal bliss and forget about politics. They are going to keep on manufacturing consent for more atrocities and I'm going to keep reading, writing, farming, trying to add quality of life to my colleagues and Clients at work and loving on my family as much as I can with whatever time we got left on this great blue ball just spinning, spinning free.

Mar 27, 2014

a good stroy with an intersting and hard to second guess plot - could be a movie starring Fred MacMurray

Sep 15, 2012

This is my first Winslow book but it won't be my last. Great read.


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