I managed to choose another perfect plane trip book with Fire in the Hole, by Sybil Downing. It is an engaging, fast-paced novel that is well-written and addresses some serious topics as well. It is not what I would consider “just” light reading, but it was definitely a fast read and barely lasted longer than my two-day trip. I don’t think the title does the book justice; I’m not sure I would have considered it based on the title alone, but my attention was caught by another book by the author and then I chose this one instead after reading the summaries (however, I will be reading the other one at some point). The main character is a single, female lawyer who is hired to defend a miner during the Colorado coal strike in 1914 (a true historical event). She gets caught up the strike itself, which is being handled via martial law, and goes all the way to the President of the country trying to ensure that there is justice. There is also a romantic side to the story, but it was not the main focus.
I appreciated several aspects of the novel that gave it depth. First of all, I enjoyed reading about a strong, independent woman as the central character in a time period when sexism was much more blatant than it is now. I was pleased that the romance did not turn her into a stereotypical female, but rather she kept her independent character and the man was in fact attracted to her because of her determination to get things done. I also liked the fact that she was driven by her desire for justice, rather than her loyalty to one side or the other. She stated several times that she was not a union sympathizer nor a company sympathizer. Rather, she was disturbed by the injustices she observered, and she wanted to ensure that people were treated humanely. The story brought out the points that both sides in a strike can be at fault, and when neither will compromise the result is often violent.
Another aspect of Fire in the Hole that I enjoyed was the historical Colorado setting, as I both enjoy history and recently moved to Colorado. I thought it was particularly neat that the author is in fact local to my town.
Overall, it was a great book and I recommend it.