January 18th, 2022
Home | Log in!

On Top Shelf
Charlaine HarrisCharlaine Harris
Fresh Pick

New Books This Week

Latest Articles

Fresh Fiction Podcast

Video Book Club

Kick off a new year with great reads!

Slideshow image

Since your web browser does not support JavaScript, here is a non-JavaScript version of the image slideshow:

slideshow image
A welcome second chance… Or a recipe for disaster?

slideshow image
It might be impossible to put out these flames…Good thing this cowboy can handle the sparks.

slideshow image
Dead To Me.

slideshow image
Rip Roaring Regency Romp

slideshow image
Healing his physical wounds is just the beginning…

slideshow image
After suffering a horrific injury that threatens to end his career, Baden Oulett is about to learn that sometimes a fresh start is just what the doctor ordered.

Excerpt of The Arsonist by Mary Burton


Silhouette Desire
March 2006
Featuring: Michael Gannon; Darcy Sampson
256 pages
ISBN: 0373274807
Add to Wish List

Romance Series

Also by Mary Burton:

The Lies I Told, August 2022
Trade Size / e-Book
I'll Never Let You Go, February 2022
Mass Market Paperback
Don't Look Now, October 2021
Trade Size / e-Book / audiobook
Near You, April 2021
Trade Size / e-Book
Cover Your Eyes, January 2021
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book (reprint)
Burn You Twice, October 2020
Trade Size / e-Book / audiobook
No Escape, July 2020
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Never Look Back, July 2020
Trade Size / e-Book
I See You, October 2019
Paperback / e-Book
Hide and Seek, April 2019
Paperback / e-Book
Cut and Run, October 2018
Paperback / e-Book
Dying Scream, June 2018
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book (reprint)
Her Last Word, May 2018
Trade Size / e-Book
The Seventh Victim, February 2018
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book (reprint)
Silver Bells, December 2017
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book (reprint)
Merciless, October 2017
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book (reprint)
The Last Move, September 2017
Trade Size / e-Book
The Hangman, May 2017
Paperback / e-Book
I'm Watching You, May 2017
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book (reprint)
The Dollmaker, November 2016
Paperback / e-Book
The Shark, June 2016
Paperback / e-Book
Vulnerable, April 2016
Paperback / e-Book
I'll Never Let You Go, November 2015
Paperback / e-Book
Be Afraid, May 2015
Paperback / e-Book
Cover Your Eyes, November 2014
Paperback / e-Book
Our First Christmas, October 2014
Paperback / e-Book
You're Not Safe, April 2014
Paperback / e-Book
No Escape, November 2013
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
The Seventh Victim, February 2013
Paperback / e-Book
The Lightkeeper's Woman, April 2012
Paperback / e-Book
The Unexpected Wife, April 2012
Paperback / e-Book
Before She Dies, February 2012
Paperback / e-Book
Heart of the Storm, February 2012
Paperback / e-Book
Merciless, February 2011
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Senseless, January 2011
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
The Tracker, December 2010
Paperback / e-Book
Dying Scream, December 2009
Silver Bells, November 2008
Dead Ringer, November 2008
Cold Case Cop, January 2008
I'm Watching You, December 2007
Wise Moves, July 2006
The Arsonist, March 2006
A Season Of The Heart, October 2005
Mass Market Paperback
In Dark Waters, July 2005

Excerpt of The Arsonist by Mary Burton

One Year Later

The informant's tip was explosive.

Excitement sizzled through Darcy Sampson's body as she stepped off the elevator into the Washington Post"s newsroom. She hurried to her desk. The large open room was full of desks, lined up one behind the other. Only inches separated hers from her colleague's.

Her computer screen was off. The desk was piled high with papers, reference books and, in the corner, a wilting plant.

Darcy dug her notebook out of her purse and then dumped the bag in the bottom desk drawer. She couldn't wait to talk to her editor and pitch the story that would propel her byline from page twenty to the front page.

"So where's the fire?" The familiar raspy voice had Darcy looking up. Barbara Rogers, a fellow reporter, was wafer thin. Her salt-and-pepper hair was cut short and her wire- rimmed glasses magnified sharp gray eyes.

Darcy flipped her notebook open. She wanted to be sure of her facts before she talked to her editor. "Just kicking around a story idea."

Barbara had been in the business for thirty years. She knew all the angles. And she knew everything that went on in the newsroom. "Must be some story. You look like you're about to start salivating."

Darcy didn't dare confirm or deny. "I've got to run." Barbara wasn't offended. "Sure, cut your best friend out of the loop."

Best friend. Barbara had stolen two story ideas from her in the last year. She hurried toward her editor's office. Visions of a Pulitzer prize and national exposure danced in her head. Through the glass walls of his office, she could see Paul Tyler was on the phone, but she knocked anyway.

What she had was too good to wait.

The phone cradled under his ear, Paul glanced up at her. He looked annoyed but motioned her inside.

Darcy hurried into the cramped office littered with stacks of newspapers, magazines and piles of books on the floor. She moved the books from the chair in front of his desk and sat down. The heavy scent of cigarettes hung in the air. He wasn't supposed to smoke in the building, but that didn't stop him from putting duct tape over the smoke detector and sneaking a cigarette once in a while.

Paul pinched the bridge of his nose. A swath of graying hair hung over his tired green eyes. "Right, well, do the best you can. And call me if you find another lead." Hanging up the receiver, he sighed as he looked up at Darcy. "What is it, Sampson?"

She sucked in a deep, calming breath, willing herself to talk slowly. "I have a story."

He stared at her blankly. "And?"

Darcy leaned forward. "Remember Nero?"

Paul sat back in his chair. A dollop of ketchup stained the right pocket of his shirt. "Sure. The arsonist that tried to torch D.C. last year. Killed twelve people."


Paul glanced at the pile of papers on his desk as if the conversation was already losing him. "He died in one of his own fires."

She spoke softly. "What if he didn't die?"

He looked up. Interest mingled with doubt in his eyes. "He died. The fire department and police department had mountains of information on the guy...Raymond somebody."

"Mason. Raymond Mason." She flipped her notebook open and searched several pages before she found the right reference. "He was a homeless man. Also, a college graduate and Gulf War vet. Volunteer firefighter."

"Right. I remember now. So why should I care about all this?"

"I got a call from a woman yesterday. She is Raymond's sister, Sara Highland."

"Why would she call you?"

A valid question. Until now, all Darcy had covered were city planning and council meetings.

"My ex-boyfriend, Stephen." She hated giving Stephen-the- creep any credit for the tip, but he had been the reason Sara had contacted her. Stephen, a reporter for TV Five News, had made quite a name for himself covering the Nero fires. "He interviewed Sara last year and thinking she might remember something of interest, he had given her his home number — which in fact was my number because he was basically living at my place most of the time. Anyway, she called. When I played back Sara's message on my answering machine, I knew I had to talk to her."

Paul's glazed look was a signal that she was rambling. "Get to the punch line."

"Sara doesn't believe that Raymond was Nero. She believes he was set up."

Paul yawned. "She said this last year. And who could blame her? No one wants to believe their brother is a serial arsonist and murderer."

"This time she's got facts to back up her statements." Darcy flipped through a couple of pages in her notebook. "It took Sara time get over the shock of it all. When she did, she started talking to the men who knew Raymond."

He lifted a brow. "Homeless men?"

"Yes. There was one man in particular — a Bud Jones. He was a veteran, too. He and Raymond were good friends. I went to talk to him. Bud said a week before the last fire a well-dressed man stopped and talked to Raymond. The two hit it off and the stranger gave Raymond five dollars. The guy came back several more times over the next few days. Finally, he offered big money to Raymond for a job."

"What kind of job?"

"Raymond never said." She scooted to the edge of her seat. "But Bud thinks it had to do with Nero's last fire."

"Did Sara or you pay this Bud character money for information?" There was no missing his cynicism. Paul believed Bud had simply told Sara what she wanted to hear in exchange for money. "I tried to give him a twenty but he wouldn't take it."

"Where's Bud been all this time? Why hasn't anyone else mentioned him?"

"He took off the day before the last fire. Thumbed down to Florida where he stayed until last month."

Paul steepled his fingers. "Keep talking."

"Raymond was supposed to meet the stranger at Shield's warehouse."

That had Paul's attention. "The spot of Nero's last fire."

"Where Raymond died." She closed her notebook.

"I think Raymond was set up by the real Nero. I think the real Nero knew the police and arson investigators were on to him and that if he didn't do something quickly, he'd be caught."

"Great theory, but where's the proof?"

"I don't have it, yet, but I intend to get it."


"Remember Michael Gannon?"

"Sure, chief arson investigator on the case. Dropped off the scene after Nero's death was confirmed."

"I talked to a couple of buddies of his in the department. I said I was doing a year anniversary thing on the fires. Anyway, one let it slip that Gannon never really believed Nero was dead. When I questioned him further, he started backpedaling."

"Where's Gannon now?"

"He moved down to Preston Springs, Virginia, and opened a motorcycle shop."

"Aren't you from Preston Springs?"

Darcy's stomach tightened. That was the major fly in the ointment. She and her mother didn't get on so well. And the last time she'd been home had been a year ago for her father's funeral. "Yeah."

"So what are you going to do — interview Gannon?"

"If it were only that easy. Gannon hates reporters. Which we can thank Stephen for."

Paul rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. "Stephen did harass the hell out of Gannon."

"Made his life rough. I'm afraid if Gannon knows I had anything to do with Stephen, reporting or Nero he'd shut me down."

He drummed his fingers on his desk. "So what do you want from me?"

"Like you said, I'm from Preston Springs. I can go home under the guise of visiting my mother and brother. And while I'm there, make contact with Gannon. With any luck, he'll open up."

Paul folded his fingers over his chest. "Long shot, if you ask me."

She rubbed her palms together. "But you've got to admit, it's worth the chance. If we could prove Nero didn't die, the coverage would be incredible. We'd get picked up all over the country. All I need is two weeks."

He nodded. "It damn sure would be." He sighed staring at the stacks of paper on his desk. "I can't give you two weeks. Only a week."

Darcy swallowed a smile. She had Paul. Now it was a matter of reeling him in. "Ten days."



He glared at her. "Sold. But this adventure is on your dime until you come up with something hard."

She jumped to her feet. "No problem. I'll leave first thing in the morning."

Standing, he held up his hand to stop her. "I want you to keep me posted. Call me every day or two. Gannon won't be easy to crack. Can be a real son of a bitch from what I remember."

"I'm not afraid of him."

"You should be."

Just the idea of this story had her nerves humming.

"Michael Gannon will talk to me. I can guarantee it."

Excerpt from The Arsonist by Mary Burton
All rights reserved by publisher and author

© 2003-2022 off-the-edge.net  all rights reserved Privacy Policy