I was talking about this book today. This book has been sitting here looking at me for the last couple of weeks since I finished reading it. I was having a conversation about the couple out in California who kept their 13 children secluded using “homeschooling” and religion as their excuse. I referred to this book due to the background of the two people who were arrested for the many, many arsons they committed.
This book has something for everyone: first responders, forensic scientists, detective work, psychology, criminal justice…..the list goes on.
Being an EMT and now having been on a couple of fire scenes, (I volunteer so I don’t work all of the time) I have a greater appreciation for what the first responders were going through in this spate of arson. Working at night in the dark can be confusing enough but being out in the dark on a scene lit up by large lights can be another experience all together. Add to that all of the gear, vehicles, water everywhere, and these happened in the winter, and the cold, and the adrenaline running.
What can you say about two people who decide to start burning down abandoned houses? Monica Hesse, the author, talks about Bonnie and Clyde yet does a phenomenal job of walking through this case step-by-step and going over the backgrounds of the two arsonists step-by-step. Hesse covers the geography of the area, the people, the socio-economic backgrounds, the history of the area. Hesse even covers the social media aspects and the community’s reaction to the arsons.
Even the end notes are very interesting.
So what makes people burn down houses? What feeds a dysfunctional relationship? What do we not see that is right in front of us? Or do people see things and choose not to respond?
The amazing aspect is that the investigators managed to narrow down where the arsonists lived using modern technology and forensic mapping, based on where the fires were happening. Yet due to the small town background, the small town connections, no one believed the truth until the couple was caught.
This is a story that even “Law and Order” couldn’t make up.