Three alarming blazes for attorney Max Bramble and fire investigator Wylie Nolan (Origin and Cause, 1994). The first and most mysterious has destroyed five Sarkin Zahedi canvases the Zigfield Museum has hung in its Parlor Gallery; though nothing else in the gallery burned, and the heat alarm never went off, somebody got into the locked room and incinerated the paintings in their frames. The second, much less interesting, case involves an arsonist who keeps starting fires in the ladies' room used by Wylie's neighbor, lawyer Miranda Yee—an arsonist who's trying to frame Miranda by using her Parliaments as tinder. Just as it seems that imperturbable Wylie's wrapped everything up—the ladies' room firebug, indeed, in quite indecent haste—Camden Kimcannon, a part-time volunteer in the Zigfield who seems to think he's a reincarnated pre-Raphaelite himself, is arrested for torching the house occupied by the despicable mother he just moved out on, even though his friend Georgiana Weeks, guest curator for the Zigfield's pre-Raphaelite show, is convinced his confession is bogus. If it sounds as if all three of these bonfires are unrelated, well, you may just have your own future in fire investigation. The oh-my-goodness writing, the wide-eyed characters, the jerry-built plot, the ingenious incendiary devices—they're all equally mechanical.
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