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House on Fire

House on Fire

4.0 1
by Denis Hamill, Dennis Hamill

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hamill's third novel-his first in 11 years-is, like its predecessors (Machine; Stomping Ground), a crime potboiler revolving around working-class Brooklynites. Fireman Kevin Dempsey has bought a big house in a quiet area of Brooklyn as a surprise birthday gift for his wife, Polly, an ex-model who is due back from Disney World with their three-year-old daughter, Zoe. But Polly calls Kevin to say that she isn't coming back, and that neither is Zoe-who, she adds, isn't his daughter anyway. Kevin is devastated, but he is just the latest in a line of Dempseys to succumb to misfortune. His older brother, Frank, has recently been suspended from the police force, suspected of stealing $1.5 million in cocaine money from an evidence room; in response to that calamity, their father, a career cop, has committed suicide. Unable to bear the pressure, Kevin freezes while fighting a fire and is sent to a rehab center for alcoholics, prompting Frank, who's also a rummy, to take up the hunt for Polly. Hamill limns the Dempseys' struggle with alcohol believably and in some depth, but his plot line, which twists around a get-rich-quick medical scheme and plays out in a fatal family confrontation backdropped by a raging California wildfire, seems contrived for maximum melodrama. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Kevin Dempsey has it all: a job he loves in his native Brooklyn, a large family, a new house, a beautiful wife, and a daughter he adores. Then comes the call from Polly telling him that not only is she leaving him but that Zoe is not his daughter. The macho firefighter can admit this setback only to his best friend, a doctor, who tests his sperm count and confirms the bad news. As Kevin searches for a reason to live, his brother, Frank, finds one in hunting for Polly. Frank even steals money from the police evidence room to fund his search. Along the way he meets Sarah, who gives him a reason to stop drinking. The emotionally damaged brothers and the women who love them are real people who react believably. The settings become characters, too, and the Los Angeles fire at the end is particularly riveting. This is Daily News columnist Hamill's first book since Machine (LJ 4/1/84). Recommended for most fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/95.]-Andrea Lee Shuey, Dallas P.L.
Melanie Duncan
Hamill has produced a carefully plotted thriller set in Brooklyn, New York. Firefighter Kevin Dempsey purchases a house as a surprise birthday gift for his beloved wife, Polly, and their daughter, Zoe, who are returning from vacation. They never arrive. Polly calls Kevin and tells him their marriage is over, she loves someone else, and Zoe is not his biological daughter. Devastated, Kevin turns to his family. His sister, Margie, provides emotional support while his brother, Frank, a cop accused of corruption, starts tracking Polly with the help of her friend Sarah Cross. As Frank and Sarah trace Polly, they discover a Polly that Kevin never knew: an amoral, greedy woman bent on becoming rich. The investigation uncovers secrets kept by the closest of friends and betrayals that could destroy the Dempsey family. Hamill wraps it up with a conclusion that neatly ties all plot threads together and leaves a major character unexpectedly dead.

Product Details

Pocket Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

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House on Fire 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An intrigue from the very beginning. Hamill speaks volumes in short descriptions of New York City firemen and the lives that surround them. I bought this book for a long train ride and was actually impressed with how fast the book runs. An enjoyable non stop ride till the very end.