FIREWIND by Hank Searls


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Idiotic psycho-violent melodrama from a writer who's somewhat better at sea (Overboard) than, as here, on dry land. It's a windy, tinder-dry December in Southern California, and the Santa Ana firewind is hitting Santa Barbara's parched hills with dense ion-charged gusts while hundreds of hairtrigger fire-fighters wait for the first flame. Those ions drive men crazy, you know--and Eric Zimmer, the psychotic fry cook at Colonel Sanders' Kentucky Fried Chicken stand, is flakey enough to begin with (he's a pyromaniac and former asylum inmate). So when the pretty Col. Sanders countergirl finds him masturbating in the john with a paper fire in the sink filling the small room with smoke, Zimmer thinks it only right that she be his next victim. He strangles her in her VW, sets it afire, and pushes it over a cliff into a canyon. Meanwhile, Lt. Shawn Ortega, newly transferred (unhappily) to the Arson and Explosives Department, is about to get on Zimmer's trail, despite some distracting personal problems. (Ortega's best friend is dying of cancer and wants Ortega to ""pull the plug,"" but Ortega's long-ago affair with his best friend's wife complicates the issue.) Soon the whole county is going up in smoke, the firewind creates a colossal firestorm (Ortega's house burns), and Zimmer has abducted another pretty countergirl and is ready to ignite her. . . just when Ortega arrives for a showdown. Forced plotting, aluminum-foil characters--abysmally crude.

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 1980
ISBN: 0595144500
Publisher: Doubleday