Fire Lover

Fire Lover

A True Story

Book - 2002
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On an October evening in South Pasadena, a horrifying wave of flame swept through a large home improvement center, snuffing out the lives of four innocent people, including a two-year-old boy. Firefighters rushed to the scene, even as a pair of equally suspicious fires broke out in two nearby stores. Silently watching the raging inferno in the midst of the heat, smoke, and chaos was a man respected as one of California's foremost arson investigators, a captain in the Glendale Fire Department ...

From Joseph Wambaugh, the critically acclaimed,nationally bestselling author of The Onion Field, comes the astonishing true story of a nightmarish obsession -- and the hunt for a brilliant psychopath who lived a double life filled with professional tributes and terrifying secrets.

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins books, 2002
ISBN: 9780060095284
0060095288
9780060095277
006009527X
Branch Call Number: 364.164 WAM 2002
Characteristics: 338 p

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DavidB
Jun 28, 2009

John Orr bagged his first pyromaniac when a landlord reported a series of small fires in an apartment complex. On the last one a “bystander” shouted a warning to residents and escorted some of them out before the engine company arrived. He was the same guy who had recently spotted a purse snatching and captured the thief after a foot pursuit. John immediately suspected the bystander hero. He wrote, “This guy sounded like me. He even looked like me right down to the mustache.” Then the hero was a bystander once too often and tried fighting a fire with a garden hose, but got overcome by smoke and ended up in an ER with an IV in his arm. He had to give his address of his employer for the hospital records, and he did, but the address belonged to the Glendale Police Department, a clue to the hospital staff the guy might just be a head case.

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DavidB
Jun 28, 2009

…(John Orr) thought that pyros were interesting. He learned that they make up less than 5 percent of arson suspects and that typically they were loners. John wrote: “the fire becomes a friend they can relate to. Their fires bring attention, friends, admiration as heroes, and self-esteem. Like a drug addict, one good score leads to the desire for another."

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DavidB
Jun 28, 2009

This book is about the tragically pathetic true story of John Leonard Orr who was an arson investigator who actually set fires.

This chronicling case study is in depth and insightful but sometimes I don’t care for the author’s colloquialisms, crass storytelling and condescension. A fine example of the author’s writing style would this gem: “asking John Orr to chill out and cut the cop capers was like asking Islamic Jihad just to kick back and milk goats.” But what can you expect from a former LAPD Detective; he’s certainly not a crime journalist and definitely not Truman Capote.

All in all, it is interesting to lock at the sad life of John Orr and try to understand why he did what he did.

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