Under Fire [NOOK Book]


A Boston firefighter is shot and killed in the line of duty while rescuing Amina Diallo and her fifteen-year-old son, Malick, from their burning store. Diallo, a Senegalese Muslim immigrant, is arrested for arson and murder, and will likely be convicted in record time.  

Attorneys Sarah Lynch and Buddy Clancy face more than racial and religious prejudice in this impossible courtroom battle.  Diallo is ...

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Under Fire

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A Boston firefighter is shot and killed in the line of duty while rescuing Amina Diallo and her fifteen-year-old son, Malick, from their burning store. Diallo, a Senegalese Muslim immigrant, is arrested for arson and murder, and will likely be convicted in record time.  

Attorneys Sarah Lynch and Buddy Clancy face more than racial and religious prejudice in this impossible courtroom battle.  Diallo is targeted by a gunman in open court, a key defense witness is attacked, and documents are stolen.  Someone is trying to stop Sarah and Clancy from winning the case.  They must find out who and why.  A dangerous pursuit of the truth becomes Amina’s only chance in Margaret McLean's Under Fire.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the outset of McLean's cliché-ridden debut, a legal thriller, Boston firefighter Jack Fogerty gets fatally shot in the stomach while rescuing the owner of the Senegalese Market, Amina Diallo, and Amina's 15-year-old son from a blaze that destroys the store. The authorities quickly charge Amina, who, behind in her mortgage payments, appears to have torched her own property for the insurance, then shot Fogerty, the first firefighter on the scene, to cover her act of arson. Buddy Clancy, a notorious criminal defense attorney, persuades his ex-prosecutor niece, Sarah Lynch, who's still haunted by the shooting death of her lover four years earlier, to return to the courtroom to defend Diallo. The high-profile case, in which the governor of Massachusetts takes an active interest, pits Sarah, a former Olympic silver medalist hockey player, against her former colleagues. Numerous improbabilities burden the trial scenes, and the author telegraphs the unlikely truth behind the fire early on. (June)
From the Publisher
"On your shelf of legal thrillers, move the Grishams aside and make room for Margaret McLean. She's got all the  knowledge of an insider and - more importantly - all the skills of a great storyteller. She'll take you into the offices and the holding cells and the courtrooms, and you'll believe every detail and nuance. Then she'll start to heighten and tighten and twist and turn, and you won't be able to put the book down. Go and read it."—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of City of Dreams

"Masterful and compelling, Under Fire is not only a breath-takingly exciting courtroom thriller, it's a beautifully written novel.  The characters are memorable, and the story feels as real as a top-flight documentary.  This is one you'll want to keep and tell your friends about." 

—Gayle Lynds, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Spies

Library Journal
Senegalese immigrant Amina Diallo and her 15-year-old son live in Boston above her small African grocery store and lunch spot. What started as a typical immigrant-makes-good-in-America story takes a turn for the ugly when Amina's husband is deported and her home and business face foreclosure. Then the building goes up in flames, trapping Amina and her son upstairs. Firefighters passing by stop, and one of them is shot and killed while trying to save the Diallo family. Amina is arrested and charged with arson and murder. Former prosecutor Sarah Lynch is talked into working with her defense lawyer uncle Buddy, but Amina is Muslim and wears the traditional hijab, making her an easy target for racial profiling. The Boston fire department turns out in droves for the funeral and the trial, and Sarah has her hands full, not to mention that her life is in danger. VERDICT This fast-paced debut legal thriller by a former criminal prosecutor offers an interesting immigrant twist. It should appeal to Richard North Patterson fans.—Stacy Alesi, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., Boca Raton, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429971898
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 6/21/2011
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 412,802
  • File size: 410 KB

Meet the Author

Margaret McLean

MARGARET MCLEAN was born and raised in Rome, New York. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston College and earned her law degree from Boston College Law School.  She practiced law as a criminal prosecutor.  McLean currently teaches law at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management.  She lives in Norwell, Massachusetts, with her three children.  Under Fire is her first novel.

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Read an Excerpt


THERE’S SOMETHING SINISTER about black smoke—the way it creeps up, closes in, and chokes the life right out of you. Jack Fogerty had to conquer it head on. He jammed the steel Halligan between the knob and frame and yanked sideways. The wooden door splintered and popped open. Smoke billowed from the Senegalese Market and enveloped him. Jack twisted his regulator and went on air. Fire alarms blared.
Please God help me save them. Tell me where they are. The woman and boy lived upstairs above the store. Jack and his partner, Andy, plowed through the dense smoke, hugging the wall and staying low. Where was the stairwell up? Should be in front. Save them. It was his calling in life, a driving force passed down by generations of firemen—his father, grandfather, great-grandfather.
Orange flames engulfed a shelf in the back and spread upward. Glass jars shattered. Not much time before the fire burned a hole through the ceiling, reached the second floor, and banked back down.
Jack studied his thermal imaging camera to navigate through the smoke. He pointed the screen from side to side and scanned the wall crammed to the ceiling with shelving and products. No way up. Could the stairs be to the left? Where was the engine company with the lines? White indicated heat, and the image of white flame off to his left had doubled. God help me save them.
Jack tripped and fell sideways into a wall of glass jars. Pain tore through his elbow. Andy pulled him to his feet, and they moved along the right-hand wall. He scoured up and down with his camera. Nothing. An explosion. A battery of cans pounded the floor. Find the stairs or they will die. Jack stumbled again. Sweat trickled down his back.
A gap appeared between the shelving, and the image of a doorknob came up on screen. Locked. Andy squeezed beside him and wedged the Halligan into the wood frame. The door flew open. Smoke poured into a steep stairwell leading up. Jack slammed the door and bounded up the stairs with Andy at his side.
They entered the hallway of an apartment. Did he hear footsteps? A white image appeared on the thermal screen. It looked like someone moving away.
“Hey!” Jack yelled as loudly as he could through his air mask, but the figure kept running until it disappeared off screen.
Jack swung the camera to the right, revealing dark images of a couch, desk, chairs … a living room? A figure appeared near the corner diagonally across from them. He saw scurrying, lots of movement. Another white blur. Were there three altogether?
Andy leaned into him. “You grab that one. I’ll take the camera and do a left-hand search down the hall. Meet you back here.”
Jack nodded and handed off the camera. The yellow flashlight clipped to his waist provided little illumination. He entered the living room with his right hand on the wall.A flash. Something exploded in his stomach, knocking him to the floor. Glass shattered.
Jack’s head felt dizzy, and his insides contracted in excruciating pain as he sat up. Had he been shot? A hot, sticky liquid plastered his stomach. Get them out of here and ignore the pain. He bit down and discerned movement a few feet away. Jack sprang from a squatting position and grabbed hold of an arm.
“My son! He ran that way.” The woman doubled over, coughing.
“Get down on your hands and knees. Now!” he shouted. An explosion thundered close by and shook the building. Dishes smashed onto the floor. The fire had made its way up. The hot, sticky liquid oozed over his hip and down both legs. Blood. Where was Andy?
“Malick!” the woman screamed.
A body crashed into Jack’s side. He felt searing pain. The son. He clenched his teeth and grabbed the boy. “Where’s the other one?”
“Nobody else.” The woman wheezed and coughed.
She nodded and hacked again.
“Is there another way out up here?” They couldn’t go back down; that exit would be blocked by fire and smoke.
The woman gagged and exploded into another coughing fit. He couldn’t tell if she nodded or shook her head. She pointed toward the hallway, and Jack saw the orange glow. Fire. Where the hell was Andy?
“Down!” Jack made them crawl along the living room wall. Get them to a window. He prayed they’d be there with a ladder or the rescue box. Where the hell was the engine with the lines? Flames crackled in another room. Windows shattered. They had less than a minute to get out. Hot as hell. Jack vomited a thick, bloody-tasting sludge into his air mask, nearly blocking the regulator. Had to get them out and find Andy. God help me save them.
The boy collapsed. Jack dropped his Halligan and scooped him up in both arms. He was heavy. Give me strength. The woman smacked her forehead against the floor as she gasped for air. Couldn’t carry them both. Jack heaved the boy over his shoulder, tore off his glove, and held the woman’s hand in his. He willed himself forward as his eyesight faded in shades of red and army green. Somebody help us.
“Jack!” Andy appeared like a blurred apparition crawling toward them along the wall.
“I found the son. Passed out.” Jack rolled the limp boy into Andy’s arms and released the woman’s hand. He motioned toward the window. Andy hesitated. Jack pushed him away.
He vomited more sludge and blood, blocking his regulator. Jack fought the urge to tear the useless air mask from his face. His eyelids curled shut. Please God lead them out.
The pulsating beep of an alarm hammered into his head. A fireman’s PASS device had activated. Someone wasn’t moving. Not Andy. Please not Andy. The beeping reached a crescendo and then faded.
Jack was lost and swimming through the black smoke as hard as he could. Heat radiated through his gear, roasting his flesh. In his mind he willed the woman, boy, and Andy out the window and onto a ladder. Please God help them. Please … please … please.
An invisible force pulled him up like a swirling funnel cloud. Maureen, John, Brian, Steve,… the baby on the way. He knew right then she would be a girl. The last words of the Fireman’s Prayer flowed through his mind:
And if according to my fate
I am to lose my life,
bless with your protective hand
my children and my wife.

Copyright © 2011 by Margaret McLean

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An extremely readable book

    One horrible night in Boston, there is a fire that demolishes a store run by a Muslim immigrant, Amina Dialo and her 15-year-old son Malick. She and her son are rescued from the burning building by the Boston Fire Department. Sadly, the fireman who got to her first was shot and killed and Amina is charged with arson and murder. Considering Boston's extremely uneasy feelings about Muslims, the feelings about this crime supposedly by a Muslim against a city hero will eventually come to the surface and this woman will certainly be convicted. Sarah Lynch, a former prosecutor and her uncle Buddy Clancy, a criminal lawyer are hired to defend Amina. They are facing a barrage of troubles from the community of Boston, the Fire Department, the State Police and their own legal system to convict this woman who, the people think, deliberately set the fire in order to collect the insurance. This turns out to be an ugly fight as the two lawyers face a huge amount of racial and religious prejudices that are brought up again and again throughout the trial. However, Sarah and Buddy succeed in turning things around on the prosecution and begin to get through to the jury that the proof against Amina is full of holes. When the defense begins to convince some of the jury members of certain facts, Amina is attacked in open court and documents that might possibly see her in a new light are stolen. As the defense lawyers work against all odds, they discover a mass of political corruption implicating the Governor and a wealth of information concerning a casino project that will erase many working-class neighborhoods in the area. Sarah and Buddy go after these people and the result may be that this will be Amina's only chance of an acquittal. The author has written this very informative book based on actual cases that she prosecuted in Boston. There are parts of the novel that deal directly with the jury panel and their thoughts. Excellent research by Ms. McLean and the fact that she is a great story teller and certainly able to walk in the footsteps of Grisham and Turow. This is an exciting new legal thriller that will keep you on your toes for a great day of reading. Quill Says: An extremely readable book written by a former prosecutor in the legal system. A busy book that will keep the pages turning until the very last page. Readers will be reluctant to put this one down.

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  • Posted July 2, 2011

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    Excellently told and written story of lawyers, firemen, police, and more

    The author makes you actually feel as though you are in the story whether it is as a cop, a fireman, a defense or prosecuting attorney, a person on trial, the witnesses of the alleged crime, or just in the presence of all of the afore mentioned. "Under Fire" is written so you can't get lost, as some stories seem to do intentionally! You will find you are placing yourself in the capacity of a small storeowner as you discover your store is on fire and you think your son is trapped upstairs in his bedroom. What to do? The you hear amidst the smoke some crashing of something followed by lights from what turned out to be a fireman's belt flashlight as two of them attempt to get you out while searching the rest of the building for any others that might be trapped. Are you in this story yet? You will be if not! You figure more firemen arrive when you hear some sirens. You make it out of the building, as does your son who does have injuries from the smoke and fire. You watch feeling helpless as your own store burns. Then, as fast as your concern was on your store and your son, you are arrested for burning down your own store. It's a nightmare you want to be awakened from never to return. But a fireman has been shot during the attempt to fight the fire and he was killed. Sarah Lynch had formerly been a prosecutor. Her uncle, Buddy Clancy, was a defense attorney that used many different types of moods and words in his defense. When Buddy was asked to defend Amina Diallo, the owner of the ruined store, he contacted Sarah and talked her into helping in the defense despite the fact that Sarah had been a prosecutor. Amina's son, Malick, had been injured in the fire but he also was one of the suspects because of his proximity during the fire. Sarah had mixed emotions since some time ago she had lost one of her best friends who was a fireman in a fire. Now she was to defend a woman charged with killing another fireman. Sarah also knew other firemen and policemen very well, which also made her job more difficult. Many things came into play between a mortgage company and its owners/managers and the killing. Could they have been a part of a plan to kill Amina because of a dispute between the shady dealings with the mortgage company? The trial went on with a real good mixture of characters in the jury box that were from all sorts of different classes, political thinking, various outlooks on life as well as thoughts of each other. Sarah's friendliness with some of the firemen and members of law enforcement usually helped her get information that she otherwise wouldn't receive. She knew her law and knew how to draw information form many sources. You should have a great idea by now how tremendous this book is. The author has researched far and wide to become knowledgeable regarding the many facets of this book. "Under Fire" is a fantastic story written extremely well. Add to all the above the fact that Sarah loved skating and had been a hockey player that had played in the Olympics. I hope Margaret McLean continues to write because she has certainly made a big fan from me.

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  • Posted June 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This is an exiting legal thriller

    Boston firefighters Jack and Andy charge through the black smoke as flames engulf the Senegalese market. They manage to get the owner, Amina and her fifteen years old son Diallo out of the inferno. However, someone shoots Jack.

    The Boston Police Department arrest Amina as an arson-murderer. The detectives claim her motive was to collect insurance money since she was unable to make her mortgages. She shot and killed the first responder Jack to cover her torching of her store. Defense attorney Buddy Clancy convinces his niece, Sarah Lynch, who quit as a prosecutor after the fatal shooting of her lover, to defend Amina. Sarah has not been inside a courtroom in the four years since she left the prosecutor's office. The media and the politicians including the governor hang Amina, which leads to mobs wanting to lynch her. However, as the uncle and niece team begin to find counter evidence, someone needs to insure a conviction even if that means assaulting witnesses for the defense.

    This is an exiting legal thriller in which racism plays a significant role in the story line; in fact the jury is purposely hyperbole so that from the left and right are accentuated; perhaps too much. Although implausible incidents occur too frequently detracting from the tale, readers will enjoy Under Fire as justice is not blind or black and white, it is gray as agendas, prejudices and baggage play key roles.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted February 21, 2014

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    Posted September 22, 2011

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    Posted January 26, 2012

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