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Summary

Shocked by a five-month arson spree that left rural Virginia reeling, Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse drove down to Accomack County to cover the trial of Charlie Smith, who pled guilty to 67 counts of arson. But Charlie wasn't lighting fires alone: he had an accomplice - his girlfriend, Tonya Bundick. Through her depiction of the dangerous shift that happened in their passionate relationship, Hesse brilliantly brings to life the once-thriving coastal community and its distressed inhabitants, who had already been decimated by a punishing economy before they were terrified by a string of fires they could not explain.

Incorporating this drama into the long-overlooked history of arson in the United States, American Fire re-creates the anguished nights that this quiet county spent lit up in flames, mesmerizingly evoking a microcosm of rural America - a land half gutted before the fires even began.

©2017 Monica Hesse (P)2017 Dreamscape Media, LLC

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Julie M. Badger
  • 18-10-17

As an Eastern Shore person, I was keen to

read this story as it unfolded in my neighborhood.

The story is good and well researched and well-written. My only negatives were several misspelled place names and the butchering of place names the reader managed.

Still, a good read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Eileen Votava
  • 04-11-17

Truth is always stranger than fiction

If you didn't know this was a true story, you'd think it was a very unlikely piece of fiction. Very interesting tale presented in an interesting way.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jackie L Ward
  • 26-12-17

Good book, Bad Reader

This sounded as if it was read by a robot. She. Pronounced. Every. Word. With. No. Emotion. Siri would have done a better job.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Wendy
  • 10-10-17

Interesting Story- Narrator very difficult to listen to

I really liked the arc of the story- alternating between past and present until the two stories collide. The narrator speaks in a very choppy intonation that makes it hard to listen to, but worth the story if you can get passed the first few chapters and get used to it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Bryan Campbell
  • 17-08-17

Narration is horrible

If you want to hear Siri read you a book, then this is the book for you! The story is good but the narration is hard to overcome.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Melissa M.
  • 16-05-18

Interesting read

Interesting read , hard to believe its true . Not for those looking for beautiful prose or to get swept away to another land by a narrative this is not your book. Nevertheless the Author does a good job to give adequate background and provide enough background about the characters thst you feel like you know them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Ellen Z. Harrison
  • 21-07-18

Boring

How am author and reader can take an interesting story and make it tedious is remarkable

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Lisa Maher
  • 05-07-18

Good story but boring writing

This author managed to make a very interesting event and make it boring. If this was written by someone like Erik Larsen, it would have been great.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Christine Skepton
  • 25-04-18

Good story but writing choppy and narrator mediocre

The story was choppy in that it went back and forth and the author included a little too much fluffiness describing the rural life of the eastern shore and the changes it underwent.

The narration was mediocre at best. Choppy reading and read at inconsistent speeds that I found distracting.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Deb T
  • 23-01-18

In depth look at arson

All about arson and a damaged couple who are drawn together by circumstance and symbiotic dysfunction who choose arson as a way of coping with their emotions and mental capacities shaped by everything that they experienced up to that point