The forest fire that killed ranger Heath Murphy may have been intentionally set, but there's no proof, which weighs heavily on Heath's older brother Gene, an L.A. cop who takes a leave from the force to investigate. In Cedar Valley, using an alias, Gene is hired by the district fire-control officer, and soon has things so stirred up that someone's taking potshots at him. Even worse, pretty Nora, who, it turns out, was having an affair with Heath, disappears, then is found butchered on a trash sate, and Gene is jailed for her murder. There'll be another death, more fires, and a local fugitive who has to turn himself in before Gene is freed and can take justice in his own hands--to avenge both his brother and the woman they cared most about. Impressive descriptions of firefighting (Lyon is a former member of the United Stated Forest Service), but the plot eventually collapses into a who-knows-why-people-act-this-way ""explanation"" of the motive. Still, an improvement over the the author's first, White Crow.