Fire Lover

Fire Lover

A True Story

eBook - 2016
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The hunt for the most prolific American arsonist of the twentieth century -- in this Edgar Award-winning true crime story that's "stranger than fiction" ( The New York Times ) .

From Joseph Wambaugh, the #1 New York Times -bestselling author of such classics as The Onion Field and The Choirboys , comes the extraordinary story of the chase for the "Pillow Pyro," led by one ambitious firefighter.

Growing up in Los Angeles, John Orr idolized law enforcement. However, after being rejected by both the LAPD and LAFD, he settled for a position with the Glendale Fire Department. There, he rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a fire captain and one of Southern California's best-known and most respected arson investigators. But Orr led another, unseen life, one that included womanizing and an insatiable thirst for recognition.

While Orr busted a slew of petty arsonists, there was one serial criminal he could not track down. Nothing was safe from the so-called Pillow Pyro's obsession. Homes, retail stores, and fields of dry brush all went up in flames. His handiwork led to millions of dollars worth of property damage and the deaths of four innocent bystanders. But after years of evading the police, he made a mistake--one that would turn Orr's life upside down.

The Washington Post raves, "When [Joseph Wambaugh] talks about the culture of cops versus the culture of firemen, we get no speculation, only hard-earned details." Based on meticulous research, interviews, case records, and thousands of pages of court transcripts, Fire Lover is Wambaugh at his best.
Publisher: New York :, 2016
ISBN: 9781504041515
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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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.

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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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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