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This is a fast-moving firefighter book with a twist that may not be as rare as we would like to think. When a firefighter pulls open the door to a burning house, car or barn they have no way of knowing they aren’t walking into a hell-hole of a some psycho’s chemistry lab gone awry. What happens when this is a chemical so deadly and secret that it gets you killed to even know about it or try to investigate the deaths it causes? An ordinary winter pileup in the Pacific Northwest is sorted out by responding firefighters. It’s only in the ensuing weeks and months that these same firefighters begin succumbing to a ten-day illness. Invariably, they descend into a vegetative state. Jim Swope picks up on the symptoms of his fellow firefighters as they either die by suicide or are interned into institutions. When Swope comes down with symptoms, he doesn’t go down easily. As the symptoms creep through his body, time is running short. With Doctor Stepanie Riggs, he finds a lead in the case sending him on a race for life, knowing that in ten days he will be just one more mental case, or dead. As he closes in, the holders of the secret attempt to frame and then eliminate him and his family in accidents which will be ascribed to his mental incompetence. Author Earl Emerson has done a superb job of showing us the hazards of the firefighter’s job. He has a great scenario for a story which is not far from reality. His descriptions of how easy it is for us to gloss over symptoms, or ascribe deaths to normal causes or suicide when no discernable symptoms of illness exist is scary! How easy it is for the big money, the big corporation, the big government, to cover up the big secret is also an eye-opener. Enjoy reading this. It’s a quickie, but very thoughtful and worth-while.
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