12.28.2006

HH Com 526

An illegal fireworks factory has blown all to Hell, and arson investigator Boone Childress is feeling pretty good about it, professionally speaking. He's been called in by the county sheriff to check out what should be an open-and-shut case. Lord knows he needs the work. He's behind on alimony and child support payments, and there's that ugly lawsuit hanging over his head. But when he arrives, that pretty good feeling evaporates faster than lighter fluid on charcoal. There were people in the factory when it blew, and their body parts are strewn all over a two-acre lot. The State Bureau of Investigation has shown up with drug dogs and its own arson expert—Boone's former boss, the man who's suing him.

When the county sheriff turns squirrelly and tries to run him off the case, Boone decides there's a lot more here to investigate and quickly finds himself on the wrong side of the law, the SBI, his ex-wife, and the drug runners who were using the fireworks factory as a cover for their meth lab. Now his compulsion to get to the truth—and a paycheck—leads Boone deep into a firestorm of political corruption, a love affair with a married woman, and in pursuit of the dirty cop who has kidnapped his daughter.


Given Miss Snark's fondness for fireworks, you won't be surprised to hear that this is a yes. It's got a more laconic tone than I normally respond to but then, John Wayne was laconic and Miss Snark is very fond of the Duke, and laconic fits the hero's persona here.

There's enough sense of conflict and an antagonist to persuade me there's a story here.

16 comments:

LJCohen said...

Fireworks factory as a cover for a meth lab??? The author is going to have to do a *lot* to set that up as believable. Even meth heads have to know how flammable a meth lab it. I can't buy that as a premise, sorry. (I do like your character and his conflict, though)

Virginia Miss said...

Somehow this author managed to include the Kohler sink in his (or her) hook without completely losing me. Fireworks explosion, arson, meth lab, lawsuit, adultery, ex-wife, dirty cop, and kidnapping. Whew!

Even though you hooked Miss Snark, you might want to consider leaving something out. Maybe the love affair? That bit doesn't make sense: "Now his compulsion to get to the truth--and a paycheck--leads Boone deep into....a love affair with a married woman."

Luc2 said...

When I read this I thought that it wouldn't pass because there's no clear antagonist. In fact, there are a couple of possible antagonists (ex-boss, sheriff, drug runners, dirty cop). I have no problem with that, I think there can be many antagonists in a story, and I'm glad that MS didn't ask to be more specific.
Looking forward to your pages!

writtenwyrdd said...

One fairly major nitpick: In most places, the arson investigator is a paid employee of the county or local fire department, not a free lancer.

I still liked your voice and the basic elements of the story you reveal. Best of luck to you on it!

Anonymous said...

Very intriguing, writer. Go get 'em.

Anonymous said...

I like this one a lot. I want to read this story. -JTC

Anonymous said...

If some twerp's manufacturing explosives the case falls under the jurisdiction of the feds -- Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms or Homeland Security -- not the local authorities. Regular arson investigators could be part of the local police/fire departments, state police, or FBI, depending on the location and situation. Freelance arson investigators are usually hired by defense attorneys after a suspect has been charged. They're civilians, not cops, and would never arrive on the scene while fresh body parts were still scattered around.

Anonymous said...

Author, these people have been watching too much TV. This scenario is perfectly plausible. In many of the rural areas of this country, there is no funding for publicly employed fire investigators or firefighters, for that matter. It is common practice to use freelance investigators and forensic specialists.

The FBI and BTF don't automatically appear by magic at a crime scene. Somebody has to call them.

Good set up. Looking forward to seeing how you write it.

heidi said...

The complexity of the plot displayed here got my attention, mostly discovering that his ex-wife was involved.

It's almost like a soap opera, and as we all know, soap operas are very hooky.


wordver: gnetpik. shame I'm not picking today.

writtenwyrdd said...

I disagree, local agencies wouldn't go hire a freelancer. They are too short on cash. They'd delegate to some possibly undertrained firefighter with the "arson investigator" attached to his name because he got volunteered or something.

Your scenario isn't wrong, but neither is mine.

Inkwolf said...

Blowing up a fireworks factory is a great way to start any book. :D

xiqay said...

I liked this a lot, but I got confused when the sheriff who hires Boone then tries to run him off the case.

Good luck.

Dave said...

I'm sorry to say this, but I know people who are still undergoing therapy after having seen this -- "and their body parts are strewn all over a two-acre lot" -- for real. It's an ugly image and an even uglier reality.

Southern Writer said...

Well done, but I also have issues with a meth lab in a fireworks factory. It will be interesting to see if you can explain it in a convincing way. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Don't you just love it when a character is motivated? This protagonist is my cup of gin. Life's a mess and getting messier; I'm likin' it.

But this guy's gotta have a pet.

Good hooking.

Kiskadee said...

The kidnapping of his daughter felt like the alien in chapter 14 to me.