by Andrew Fabbro
Coming in February 2020
Every Fire Tells a Story is the first murder mystery to feature a professional arson investigator solving crimes. Combining CSI-style forensics, the instinctive horror of fire, and a delicious love story, my novel takes a fresh path to murder mystery excitement.
Shakti Wilkes, a black inner city arson investigator from Detroit accustomed to analyzing burned out ghetto gang houses, is a fish out of water in Portland, Oregon’s progressive granola-and-compost culture. When a beloved new age book store burns to the ground and kills its owner, the local fire marshal gambles on her reputation and teams her up with Eric, an athletic police detective who is immediately attracted to the 6’4” adrenaline junkie from Motown.
Shakti’s investigation takes her to Portland’s waterfront Shanghai tunnels, the abandoned MacLeay Stone House, and Mount Hood’s icy slopes as she uncovers the story of the Moonrise bookstore. A fifty-year-old community treasure and “temple of the soul”, Moonrise was crassly perverted into a commercial peddler of teenage vampire romances by a new owner. This corruption tears through the lives of the store’s employees: an eco terrorist, a Gothling webcam stripper, the City Councilman’s wife, an elder shaman, and a teenage superhero. All are vivid characters as diverse as Portland itself.
Every Fire Tells a Story is also a deep romance, as Shakti struggles with Eric’s obvious romantic interest and her own attitude towards men shorter than her – practically everyone. A genuine epinephrianic (adrenaline junkie), her only release from stress is danger. From bungee jumping to hang-gliding to charging after men with guns, danger is like candy to her and soon Eric is conflicted about their relationship and the tiger who is his partner.
Shakti also chases a childhood dream of finding the “land of the high bright sky”. The old beer commercial cartoon was a fantasy touchpoint from her earliest memory, and she wonders if the clean alpine air of Mount Hood and the majestic Columbia River Valley might indeed be home.