Hidden Fire

Under Fire

Line of Fire
by Jo Davis
(Signet Eclipse, $6.99, R) ISBN 0-451-22978-6
This novel continues the author’s Station Five series, featuring a firefighter squad in Sterling Tennessee. The squad is led by Sean Tanner, a man tragedy had turned into an alcoholic. Employee Tommy Skyler is one of the firefighters, a man tragedy had turned into a firefighter.

An injury sustained by Tommy in a fire places him in the city hospital emergency room where he sees Shea Ford, a nurse he has been unsuccessfully trying to date. Shea, turned gun shy by tragedy, knows Tommy represents a type she fears the most – the handsome, smooth, dangerous type, so she dates instead the smooth, sophisticated city manager she believes to be safe because she has no emotional investment.

Tommy had been a college quarterback scouted early by pro scouts and all but assured of a pro career, when his soldier brother was killed in the Middle East. Tommy and his parents were devastated and he dropped out of college, returned home to be near them and provide support. Tommy felt that he would never be good enough to come close to the man his brother was in his parent's eyes.

The ER visit provides the opportunity Tommy has been waiting for and he manages to persuade Shea to give him a chance. For people with so much baggage it is surprising that it takes so very little time before they end up in bed again and again and again.

Meanwhile the city has become the target of a terrorist who is raising money with the help of an unsuspecting city partner who is in it for the money in a scheme whereby buildings are purchased in shell corporate names, and burned for the insurance money. The money is then unevenly divided amongst the terrorist, the arsonist and the city business partner. The latter, unhappy with his share, has begun to skim more than his share.

The fires, of course, involve Station Five and it is through the negligence of the fire chief Tanner in his alcoholic daze that Tommy is injured again, this time far more critically and the story turns into the home stretch of identifying and stopping the wrongdoers.

So much time is spent with the sex scenes that character developments ends up shallow at best. There is very little sense of place other than placing the reader amidst raging fires which is artfully done.

Early on the identity of the city partner is disclosed, but in the end the terrorist remains uncaught, clearly to be the subject of the next novel. So even with the development of the story line there are very few, if any, surprises for the reader. Enjoyment of this novel will depend entirely upon what the reader seeks.

--Thea Davis

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