Excerpt from St Albans Fire by Archer Mayor, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

St Albans Fire

A Joe Gunther Mystery

By Archer Mayor

St Albans Fire
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Oct 2005,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2006,
    352 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


It wasn't easy. His eyes hurt and weren't focusing properly, he kept losing his balance, disoriented from a brain hemorrhage he knew nothing about, and as he reached the top of the ladder, the injury to his hand returned like a hot poker. The only saving grace was that he could see anything at all, the hayloft being high-ceilinged enough that the red, glowing smoke stayed above him.

He grabbed the ladder's upright with his good hand, fumbled for the first rung, and began his descent, hearing the tethered animals starting to get restless.

Halfway down, just clear of the inferno overhead, he stopped for a moment to adjust to the stable's contrasting gloom. There, hanging by one hand, praying for salvation, he watched in stunned disbelief as all around him one bright rope of fire, then two, then three, magically appeared on the walls from the ceiling and dropped like fiery snakes to the floor, shooting off in different directions and leaving lines of fire in their wakes, stimulating a loud, startled chorus of bellows from the frightened creatures below him.

The fire spread as if shot from a wand, in defiance of logic or comprehension, racing from one hay pile to another. Bobby watched, transfixed. The cows had panicked in mere seconds and were now, all sixty of them, struggling and stamping and heaving against their restraints, lowing and roaring as the encircling fire, progressing with supernatural speed, changed from a series of separate flames into the sheer embodiment of heat.

One by one, the animals broke loose. Stampeding without direction, corralled by fire, they began generating a stench of burning flesh in the smoky, scream-filled vortex of swirling, lung-searing air. A broiling wind built up as it passed by the dying boy, the trapdoor directly above him now transformed into a chimney flue. Bobby Cutts clung to his ladder as to the mast of a sinking ship, weeping openly, the fire overhead filling the square opening with the blinding, bloodred heat of a falling sun.

His hair smoking, all feeling gone from his burning body, he gazed between his feet into the twisting shroud of noise and flames and fog of char, no longer aware of the contorting bodies of the dying beasts slamming into his ladder, splintering it apart, and uncaring as he finally toppled into their midst, vanishing beneath a flurry of hooves.

Copyright © 2005 by Archer Mayor

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...
  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...
  • Book Jacket: Toms River
    Toms River
    by Dan Fagin
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

    In Toms River, investigative journalist Dan Fagin ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois
  2.  143Happier at Home:
    Gretchen Rubin

All Discussions

Who Said...

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.