All it took for a hundred people to die during a show by the hair metal band Great White was a sudden burst from four giant sparklers that ignited the acoustical foam lining the Station nightclub. But who was at fault? And who would pay? Trial By Fire is the heart-wrenching story of the fire's aftermath because while the fire, one of America's deadliest, lasted minutes, the search for the truth would take years.
While most of this well-researched and well written account focuses on the aftermath of the devastating fire, the author begins with introductions to some of the people involved, including the club owners, with their personal stories carried throughout the book. The loss of loved ones and the incredible pain and complexity of recovery from severe burns are appropriately documented, as is the outrageously long time it took for people to be brought to trial. This is not an easy book, but it is well worth reading for true crime fans who are tired of serial killers.
Journalist James, the author of two novels under the pen name Kemble Scott, makes his nonfiction debut with this gripping, meticulously researched account of the 2003 Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I., that killed 100 people ... James draws on his knowledge of the state’s politics and interviews with the principal players to present a complete, affecting picture of the tragedy’s terrible human cost. This is essential reading for true crime fans.
Exposition of a tangled tragedy about which it took 'years before anyone knew what really happened—and who was truly to blame' ... The author’s account is minutely detailed, its technical discussions punctuated by human-interest-story portraits of the victims; it is often repetitive, sometimes to emphasize a point, sometimes seemingly carelessly. What emerges from the story is a blend of cascading effects and unintended consequences ... Considering James’ exhaustive examination of the facts and the back-and-forth argumentation regarding fault, it is surprising that the legal consequences were not more severe—the fire inspector, for example, received a raise from the town and then retired early on disability—or more broadly distributed. An unsettling history of horrific events whose memory is still fresh.