Barnes, the supervisor of a Hot Shot wildfire suppression crew, is haunted by the season past, when many members of his dedicated, young team were killed in a Colorado forest fire that went all wrong, scorching the Hot Shots as they fled, some as they struggled into their fire shelters. He wakes each morning in the presence of their ghosts as they proceed across his bedroom or assemble at his kitchen table, their eyes asking questions that he cannot answer. As he tries to unravel the threads of what happened - what went wrong - he relives the deadly fire again and again in his mind.
Barnes's responsibility for the lost lives is an unbearable weight upon him, lightened only by his neighbor, a little girl named Grace, who lives with her mother and grandfather. This family of three has its own struggles, and Barnes is able to help each of them through the simple act of friendship and, finally, one lucky act of salvation. But it is they who save him, ultimately, and as Barnes becomes more deeply enmeshed in their lives, he understands that the ghosts may not be with him forever.
Robinson skillfully pieces together the past while interweaving it with the present, creating an unforgettable mosaic of heroism, fatal errors, sorrow, and hope.
After the Fire
A noir novella set in Depression-era Southern Colorado. Following his release from jail for robbery, the novella's unnamed narrator drives into Trinidad, Colorado, looking for Ida Rose, the woman who stole the money from him that he had originally stolen.
All he wants is his share of the loot, nothing more. For the past few years, he has thought of little besides that money. Like a man at the bottom of a well looking at the light above, that money has been all he could see. He'll lie and fight for it; he's willing to kill for it, and he may die because of it.
What he wants in life, however, is not what he needs, and his desire for the money may prevent him from finding what he truly needs.
The Shadow of Violence
Greenwich, Connecticut, 1922. Newspaper man Joe Henry finds himself the primary suspect when his friend, fellow reporter Wynton Gresham, is murdered. Both were veterans of French battles during WWI—the war that was supposed to end all wars.
Unanswered questions pile up in the wake of a violent night: Gresham lies dead in his home, a manuscript he had just completed has gone missing, three Frenchmen lay dead in a car accident less than a mile from Gresham's home, and a trunk full of Gresham's clothes lay neatly packed in his bedroom. Hours after his friend's death, Henry discovers in Gresham's desk drawer a one-way ticket reserved in his friend's name aboard a steamer ship to France. The ticket is dated for the next day. Henry steals away under Gresham's identity, escaping the heated interrogation of the town sheriff, to Paris in the roaring 20s. In the City of Light he becomes a hunted man. To clear his name he must find the man responsible for his friend's murder, while evading his own, and discover the deadly secret revealed in the lost manuscript. In the process, with the help of other broken veteran expats of Hemingway's Lost Generation living in Paris, he finds hope in a world irrevocably altered by war.