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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Crime
  • Language:English
  • Pages:293
  • eBook ISBN:9780966286847

Origin and Cause

by Shelly Reuben

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Cable-TV mogul Stanfield Standish wrote the book and broke the rules in the news and entertainment industry. When his charred body is found inside the burnt-out remains of his classic 1930 Duesenberg sedan, his family files a $52 million damage suit. They blame the fatal “accident” on Courtland Motor Company, the firm that restored the antique. That’s when Courtland’s attorney, Max Bramble, takes over, suspicions sharp and asking questions. His first move: Hire private detective and ace arson investigator, Wylie Nolan. If there’s a flame, Nolan will discover the source. As Nolan brilliantly dissects the fascinating anatomy of a fire, Bramble digs deep into the Standish empire, and discovers that the media tycoon scalded many on his way up the ladder. It’s just possible that one of them paid him back with hot-blooded murder, cleverly plotted and fiery in its execution.
It seems like an accident: A 1930 Duesenberg Arlington Sedan, worth more than $2 million, goes up in flames with media tycoon Stanfield Standish inside. Is Standish the innocent victim of a fire caused by a mechanical defect? And is the Courtland Motor Company, the firm that restored the antique car, at fault? Standish's relatives think they know the answer. They've filed for $52 million in damages. But they don't figure on attorney Max Bramble, a young man with old-fashioned values. He actually believes in the truth and will go to almost any extreme to discover it. As lawyer for the car company, he's not at all sure that Stanfield Standish's death was an accident. Standish created an international cable television network and had great power, but not many friends. Any one of a number of colleagues -- or even family -- could have killed him. For some insights into both fire and human nature, Max seeks out retired New York City fire marshal Wylie Nolan. A crackerjack arson investigator and licensed private detective, Wylie is also wise and full of surprises. As Wylie soon teaches Max, "There is no such thing as a 'natural' fire. Death at the end of long life is supposed to happen. Fire is never supposed to occur..." Did Stanfield Standish die, as his family suggests, as a result of flame impingement? Or was he murdered and then set on fire in his beautifully restored Duesenberg to obliterate evidence of the homicide? The answer lies in burn patterns. The answer lies in the fire's origin and cause. With Wylie and Max -- two of the most appealing new teams to come along in years -- we learn to dig through char, to observe the path and pattern of a fire, and to treat all fire fatalities as possible homicides. Dramatic, poignant, and filled with intriguing forensic details, Origin and Cause confirms the storytelling power of a superbly gifted crime writer.
About the author
Origin & Cause, was nominated for a Falcon Award by the Maltese Falcon Society of Japan. The ideas for many of Shelly Reuben's crime novels come from the cases she investigates as a licensed private detective and certified fire investigator. Her first novel, Julian Solo, was nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for an Edgar Award and by the Libertarian Futurist Society for a Prometheus Award. Shelly also writes two newspaper columns and regularly contributes short stories to The Forensic Examiner. She lives in New York City.