American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land - Monica Hesse

American Fire is about a rash of arson committed by a local couple. Simple direct story found in the crime beat section until the author digs into the area's history, especially its heyday and then decline. She also goes into the history of the couple: Charlie, a native of the area with a solid reputation and a rap sheet (mostly due to his drug use) and Tonya, also a native without such a solid reputation and a need to set things on fire. The author also profiles the local volunteer firefighters and law enforcement officials who had to clean up the messes Charlie and Tonya caused without the resources of suburban town or urban center. That is what really spoke to me, as I grew up in an area with only volunteer firefighters and EMTs - the resources and manpower can be overwhelmed very easily, but the level of dedication of those volunteer units can't be found in a lot of places.

 

I would recommend this book to true crime readers or those who like a closer look at rural towns and their problems and the people trying to solve them.