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 by Archer Mayor
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2005, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2006, 352 pages

  • 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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Summer Before the War
    by Helen Simonson
    Set on the cusp of World War I, The Summer Before the War exudes strength and spirit as a small town...
  • Book Jacket: Lincoln in the Bardo
    Lincoln in the Bardo
    by George Saunders
    George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo is a philosophy discourse brilliantly disguised as a ...
  • Book Jacket
    Tender
    by Belinda McKeon
    Most of us have heard the slightly trite saying: "If you love something, set it free." But one can ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Victoria
by Daisy Goodwin

"A hit…The research is impeccable, the attention to detail, perfect." - The Sunday Mirror (UK)

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Caught in the Revolution
    by Helen Rappaport

    A masterful retelling of the Russian Revolution from the author of The Romanov Sisters.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    A Piece of the World
    by Christina Baker Kline

    A stunning novel of friendship, passion, and art from the #1 bestselling author of Orphan Train.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

To win without risk is to triumph without glory

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

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Your F C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.