• Tammy

Reviewing Scott James' Trial by Fire

#TrialbyFire #ScottJames #nonfiction

Although I normally read fiction novels, I will occasionally go the non-fiction route to break things up a bit for me. So when I was offered to review Trial by Fire by award-winning journalist, Scott James, the description of what the book intrigued me. I forewarn you though, it’s a difficult read because of the emotional turmoil that many people and their families and friends went through. I also read this in December, a month of joy, togetherness and making memories, so I had to section this book into parts to give my mental health a bit of healing time by reading some holiday romances.

Trial by Fire not only tells the rock club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian's side regarding The Station’s fire, which was the deadliest fire in modern day American history, but it also provides firsthand accounts from those greatly impacted by the tragedy. 


The book provides a glimpse into the misinformation spread throughout the media that pinned the majority of the blame on the Derderian brothers while ignoring or withholding key evidence into who was truly to blame for the fire. This shocked and didn’t shock me. In a time where we are seeing innocent people exonerated because of DNA evidence and the public Is finding out more about how American court system works and this book shows how it’s not all squeaky clean. 


This was an eye opening book. James’ research and effort into getting to the truth by allowing an opportunity for every side of the story to be told and by digging through a numerous amount of evidence, is a testament to his award-winning achievements. If you are craving some non-fiction and read amazing investigative journalism, this one is for you.


Thank you St. Martin’s Press for the finished copy. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Book Description


In only 90 seconds, a fire in the Station nightclub killed 100 people and injured hundreds more. It would take nearly 20 years to find out why—and who was really at fault.


All it took for a hundred people to die during a show by the hair metal band Great White was a sudden burst from two giant sparklers that ignited the acoustical foam lining the Station nightclub. But who was at fault? And who would pay? This being Rhode Island, the two questions wouldn't necessarily have the same answer.


Within 24 hours the governor of Rhode Island and the local police commissioner were calling for criminal charges, although the investigation had barely begun, no real evidence had been gathered, and many of the victims hadn't been identified. Though many parties could be held responsible, fingers pointed quickly at the two brothers who owned the club. But were they really to blame? Bestselling author and three-time Emmy Award-winning reporter Scott James investigates all the central figures, including the band's manager and lead singer, the fire inspector, the maker of the acoustical foam, as well as the brothers. Drawing on firsthand accounts, interviews with many involved, and court documents, James explores the rush to judgment about what happened that left the victims and their families, whose stories he also tells, desperate for justice.


Trial By Fire is the heart-wrenching story of the fire's aftermath because while the fire, one of America's deadliest, lasted fewer than two minutes, the search for the truth would take twenty years.