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In just one night, the world is taken by fire.

The story unfolds through the eyes of John Cotard, a science teacher who rapidly drugs his life away after a fateful car accident turns him onto prescription painkillers. He allows first his job then his marriage to crumble, doing nothing to stop it, lost in a haze of chemicals.

When a mysterious fire sweeps through the land, wiping out human-kind and leaving behind zombie-like burn victims, he carries on by breaking into houses to steal drugs. For John, the end of the world actually seems to make sense- it's the next logical step in his self-destruction.

One-by-one he meets the few remaining survivors, including a woman starving herself thin, a combat-obsessed survivalist and a dangerous face from the past. As the group travels across the country to seek safety they face not only the dangers of the dead world around them but of each other, discovering the strange connections they share along the way.

The debut novel from Brian Martinez, A Chemical Fire is a minimalist, noir vision of the apocalypse.

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