Boots in the Ashes. Cynthia Beebe
A few weeks ago I saw a post on twitter announcing the publication date of a book, Boots in Ashes. Given my 30 years in the Fire Service this caught my attention straight away. When I dug around a bit and found that it was a memoir of an ATF Special Agent, who specialised in Fire and Explosion investigation, the discipline I specialised in for the last 12 of those 30 years, I knew it was a book I wanted to read.
Thankfully I managed to contact the author, Cynthia Beebe, and she helped me get my hands on a copy. That in itself must have been brave, after all she was going to let a subject matter expert review her book. Well I’m glad she did because this is a fantastic read.
Cynthia plots the course of her career by looking at some of the landmark cases she worked on, and some of the experiences she had whilst serving as a Special Agent in the ATF
The cases include the bombing of two Judges homes, targeted “Hits”, and her pursuit of Hells Angel type biker gangs. The book took me longer than usual to read because every time she mentioned a case I reached for Google and got lost in a worm hole of reports and witness accounts. This added a depth to the book, and in fairness each of these stories could have been a true crime book on its own. I hope that there will be another book where we get to hear about some more of her work.
It’s not just the cases though, it’s the way she describes the scenes. That first time she attended a Fire Scene and the confusion she felt at the destruction of the building which had been ravaged by fire. The determination she had to ensure that justice was done and that the culprit was found and taken to court.
The frustrations of working with, what a times were bigoted old men, makes Cynthia’s achievements even more impressive. When I teach University students one of the most often asked questions, by the young women in the class, is can women make good firefighters. My answer is always the same. Some of the best firefighters I ever served with were women. All of the worst firefighters I ever served with were men. Hopefully the question will stop one day but until then I’m going to point those who ask it in the direction of this book.
This book will be a great read for anybody who is into true crime, but I think there will be a lot of Fire Investigators and Crime Scene Investigators in the UK that will be looking for a copy, and they are going to love it
Published in the UK on 25the February 2020 and available on Amazon