Friday, July 20, 2012

Review of "Fire Season" [61]

Fire Season: A Frank Coffin Mystery by Jon Loomis
Minotaur Books, ISBN 978-0312668136
July 17, 2012, 320 pages

Acting chief of police Frank Coffin has a lot on his plate at the moment, so he is happy it is the beginning of the more quiet off season in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Oh, but it is not to be.
First, police are called to a horrible, senseless slaughter..of some pet seals at a local restaurant. And then the fires starts. At first, a few dumpsters are doused with gasoline and set ablaze, but very shortly things start to escalate. And then there is the severed head..well, let's just say I will never look at a lobster tank the same way again.
Meanwhile his mom is about to get thrown out of her nursing home and his pregnant girlfriend..she won't marry him, what can he do? having odd craving and not so odd but personally upsetting aversions. Oh, and did I mention that one of his deputies, who like many people in town is related to the chief, believes that he has been abducted by aliens and that they are going to return to get him at the Highland Lighthouse. Yes, there are lighthouses! And lots of drag queens, Eastern European mobsters, bloody power tools, flashing lights in the night skies, a parrot with an X-rated vocabulary and all manner of interesting things.

It is not easy to write a book that is at times laugh out loud funny and still present some serious issues and create a real sense of suspense and make it all work, but Loomis does just that in Fire Season. Yes, Frank's mom is a real card, but dealing with her Alzheimer's is a real and very sad challenge. The scenes with the volunteer firemen..did you know you can give mouth to mouth to a cat?..are funny, but the fact that a place like Provincetown is so financially strapped that volunteers are all they can afford is not so funny with an arsonist on the loose.

The author has created some great characters and with P'town as the setting, some of them are real 'characters' indeed. Frank is great as he deals with burden after burden and he assisted by the very able Sgt. Lola Winters and stymied at every turn by the previous Chief, Rodolfo Santos, aka Uncle Rudy. And did I mention the great dialogue? I love funny, witty dialogue and there is more than enough here to make me a happy reader.
Nantucket..but it's close!

Then there is the setting.
I have never been to P'town and only made one glancing trip to Cape Cod to catch the ferry to Nantucket, but some of the great descriptions of the area in this book have me wishing I could pack my bags and jump in the car. Mr. Loomis includes a number of real places in his story, from local restaurants to actual streets..I read the book with a map of Cape Cod up on my iPad so I could check...and did I mention the lighthouses? Waterfront vistas, beaches and mini-golf..perfect!

This is the third book in the Coffin mysteries but it totally stands alone, so fear not. After finishing this book in one day..rain can be a good thing..I have the first in the series on order!
A very enjoyable read.


  1. I love books that deal with serious issues with humor. This really sounds like a winner!

  2. P'Town has its own reputation. Drag queens and other "characters" are the order of the day. Don't plan a whole vacation around this location - a day or half a day should be enough.

    1. There are about a dozen lighthouses, of one sort or another, on the cape...


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