INCENDIARY DESIGNS by Michael Allen Dymmoch


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As the O.J. Simpson case smolders half a continent away, Chicago Detective John Thinnes battles an equally sizzling case: a seemingly endless series of suspicious fires. The trouble begins when a friend of Thinnes’s, psychiatric consultant Dr. Jack Caleb, out jogging, runs into an angry mob bent on torching Patrolman Paul Nolan’s car while Nolan’s inside. But the patrolman, rescued by Caleb, turns out to be luckier than his partner, Arlette Banks, who’s found beaten to death in a nearby vacant lot. Since there’s no trouble identifying several of the white-robed arsonists as members of the mail-order Church of the Divine Conflagration, the case seems straightforward, if horrific. But neither Brian (a.k.a. Wiley) Fahey, the ex-chauffeur serving as the Divine Conflagration’s current spiritual leader, nor Sister Serena, the psychotic congregant who’s only too eager to confess her role in the apocalyptic slaughter, seems capable of the kind of planning that’s behind the siege of arsons waiting in the long, long summer ahead. Not surprisingly, Jack Caleb’s flirtation with a prospective patient, worried because his marriage is on the skids, will end up having a direct bearing on the deep-seated plan behind the fires; also not surprisingly, Caleb’s pain and hope will come through more clearly than the dizzyingly complex plot. Lightning flashes of insight and compassion dot what’s otherwise the most conventional of Dymmoch’s three mysteries so far (The Death of Blue Mountain Cat, 1996, etc.).

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-19245-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1998


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