It's been said that firefighters come alive when they're battling a blaze. Earl Emerson's novel, "Vertical Burn," comes alive when he's describing one.
That shouldn't surprise: Emerson's not only a novelist, he's a lieutenant in the Seattle Fire Department. He's at his best when he's depicting the rush of suiting up or how moisture in the grass sizzles when a fireman just out of a blaze puts a helmet down.
Unfortunately, in between the fires that hold up "Vertical Burn," the excitement ebbs, leaving too much time to ponder one unacceptable plot twist after another.