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Fight Fire With Swift and Blinding Violence

Finn Maguire, that loveable English scamp, returns in a new book, Incinerator, and almost gets burned alive. Pip, pip, cheerio!

Fight Fire With Swift and Blinding Violence

BOOK REPORT for Incinerator by Niall Leonardo

Cover Story: We Didn't Start the Fire...
Drinking Buddy: Cheers, Mate
Testosterone Level: I Suck
Talky Talk: The Ultra Violence
Bonus Factors:Crusty Old Trainer
Bromance Status: The Somewhat Frightening Neighborhood Hero

Cover Story: We Didn't Start the Fire...

We apparently didn't pay anyone to design the cover, either.

The Deal:

In the previous book, Crusher, seventeen-year-old Finn Maguire witnesses the violent deaths of his parents. Then he's set up for murder and targeted by an organized crime syndicate. Kids these days...

But now things are looking up. His father inherited a large sum of money before he died, and it's passed on to Finn. Finn partners with his old boxing coach, Delroy, and buys an old gym. Nothing fancy, just a little place where folks can work out and maybe do a little sparring. Finn's now a businessman, fast on the road to becoming middle class.

Except it turns out that Delroy got his share of the money from a nasty loan shark. And when he misses a payment, he's now in danger of losing his house...or the gym. All perfectly legal.

Finn's not about to let that happen, he'll cover Delroy's debt. Except his lawyer, Nicky, the sexy young woman who had kind of a flirty thing going on with Finn, has kind of vanished. With all of Finn's money and her Brazilian passport.

No biggie, her firm is insured against this sort of thing. Finn will have his money back in thirty days.

Unforunately, Delroy's debt comes due this week. And loan sharks are not a patient lot.

Drinking Buddy: Cheers, Mate

So Finn has the worst luck of any YA character I've ever encountered. He's smart, kind, hard working, and trying to overcome his dyslexia and poverty.

Hardly a chapter goes by that someone isn't beating the crap out of him, trying to burn him alive, or using him for cheap and tawdry love.

God, this kid needs a friggin' break.

Testosterone Level: I Suck

Finn's so macho, he makes me question my own worth as a man (which takes a lot). When three thugs try to burn down the gym, he and Delroy break their bones (did I mention Delroy is half-paralyzed from a stroke?). Finn is the type of guy who you could crack with a crowbar, only to have him come up swinging.

Actually, that happens in the book.

Plus, there's poor Finn's love life. They guy is crazy forgiving when it comes to women. His last 'girlfriend,' Zoe, set him up to be murdered by some Mafia thugs and he barely escaped with his life. In this book, he gets his revenge, forcing her to do some tiresome computer research to help track down his money. He's got half a mind to unfriend her on Facebook.

And then there's Nicky. Finn always had a crush on his lawyer, even though he's seventeen and she's in her mid twenties. But when Nicky vanishes, her almost identical half-sister Susan shows up.

Susan always kind of resented Nicky. Such seething, seething anger and passion...

Talky Talk: The Ultra Violence

Yeah, this was a violent book. It's not gratuitous, but when Finn decides to turn in for the night, you realize he's not going to end up zoned out in front of the telly.

Still, Finn really has heart. I'm anxious to read the next one in the series.

Hey, what's worse than having a Mafia don pissed off at you?

Having two Mafia dons pissed off at you.

Bonus Factor: Crusty Old Trainer

So Delroy is Finn's old boxing coach and business partner. An old Jamaican man, he's been feeling kind of useless since a stroke robbed him of movement on his left side. But when Finn offers him a chance to get back in the ring and train some of the young scrappers, he's not going to pass up that chance. True, he's a little short on cash, but he's found someone willing to loan him the money. Such easy terms...

The loan sharks may think Delroy is an easy mark. Maybe he can't move his left arm anymore, but he's still got that right hook.

Bromance Status: The Somewhat Frightening Neighborhood Hero

I felt on top of the world when I read this book, and am now somewhat unsettled because it's still in my house.

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Delacorte press, thrown through my front window at night, tied to a brick. No money was forthcoming. Next week, it'll be double.

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.