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The Truth About Fire

The Truth About Fire From Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to eastern Germany, neo-Nazism and biological terrorism burst into shocking relief in this powerful literary debut. When graduate student Michael Landis asks Gillian Grace, a scholar of modern German history, to be his academic advisor, she is drawn into a dangerous enterprise that becomes deadly when his thesis on Michigan’s Far Right prompts him to infiltrate the extremist sect, Sons of the Shepherd. Meanwhile, Lucy Wirth, coerced mistress of the Sons’ pastoral leader, is blackmailed into spying on Gillian and her daughter, and learning the most intimate details of their lives.

Despite a sympathetic bond that Lucy develops for them, she reveals their secrets to the Sons, who are determined to destroy anything that impedes their goal of an all-white nation. The suspense builds as Gillian and Lucy, along with their families and neighbors, are threatened by the Sons’ cloud of terror, and confronted with the risk of shattering their own lives to ensure the safety of others.

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 Praise for The Truth About Fire

Hartmann has gifted us with a compelling thriller. In this craven moment of terror and right-wing treachery, The Truth About Fire combines powerful reality with astonishing drama. Riveting from first page to last, everyone interested in love and death, lust, bigotry, and courage, will be moved by these people, these events, this haunting, important book.
– Blanche Wiesen Cook, Author of Eleanor Roosevelt, Volumes I and II


For anyone who’s remained ignorant about the international Right, Hartmann’s beautifully paced thriller will come as a revelation. That it is also an exquisitely rendered novel about mothers and daughter, about marriages tumbling down and women tumbling upward into a pained empowerment makes it something truly special.
– Anthony Giardina, Author of Recent History and White Guys 


Hartmann has imbued a story about militia-types and religious fanatics with the dualities and contradictions of human emotion. The characters may come from today’s headlines, but here love and hate, sin and redemption, spin towards truths less transitory and more fundamental than any news story.
– Leonard Zeskind, MacArthur Fellow and President of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights

From Publishers Weekly
Two unlikely heroines who converge to expose a bioterrorist plot inspired by neo-Nazis and implemented by cultists on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are the protagonists of this absorbing first novel…Over the course of her compelling tale, Hartmann proves herself an able storyteller, creating fearless, idealistic, knowledgeable and opinionated female characters who make difficult choices and reluctantly get involved in dangerous enterprises to protect themselves, their families and their communities. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
This politically charged thriller unfolds through the perspectives of two very different women enmeshed in the same terrifying situation…These well-drawn women lend real drama to a tense, multilayered story. Carrie Bissey

From Midwest Book Review
The Truth About Fire
is a chilling novel about Neo-Nazi acts of biological terrorism taking place in modern-day America. A young college woman becomes drawn into the web of an extremist group, and becomes situated on the crossroads of history as she resolves to foil a deadly plot that threatens the destruction of America. The Truth About Fire is an engaging and suspenseful story that firmly hooks the reader’s total attention from first page to last.