Genre: Nonfiction, True Crime
Rating: 4.0/5.0 Stars
Main Takeaway: Hesse tells this tale like a crafted story, gives its characters life, and drags the reader into the wonder of this real life crime. Riveting and fascinating!
In 2012 Accomack County, VA was fading from view. Jobs were sparse, the economy had fallen, and the residents were leaving. Such was life when a series of mysterious fires began to plague the county, slowly burning it to the ground over the course of half a year, devouring the county’s resources, landmarks, and history. What resulted from this case was a story of love, loss, and manipulation that rocked Accomack County to its core.
I really enjoyed this true crime novel. Admittedly, it took me about two weeks to finish, but this was due more to life being busy and having no time to read, rather than anything to do with this novel. Once I did finally sit down and dedicate myself to reading this book it shocked me. It blew my mind that someone could burn so many properties before being caught. It baffled me how it happened so casually, how unplanned and spontaneous these crimes were. It stunned me that I understood why no one suspected the culprits.
Hesse’s writing and research of this novel were immaculate. Hesse did not fall trap to the simply factual style of writing that often deters me from reading nonfiction books. She weaved facts with quotes and personal accounts. She created a fluid narrative that was exciting to read. She pulled you into the “character’s” lives; I found myself moved and invested in Charlie and Tonya’s love story, empathizing with the firefighters, and utterly confused along with the residents. Monica Hesse’s American Fire was exciting, driven, and fascinating. A must-read for fans of true crime!