Burning Down the House
Fraser returns from a trip up north to find some radical changes have occurred: his home is gone and a stranger is masquerading as Ray Vecchio. Meanwhile, an arsonist dodges Fraser and Vecchio's every step.
After trashing half of Canada in pursuit of a felonious litterer, Fraser is contacted by Ray, who says he can't pick the Mountie up when he arrives back in Chicago. When Fraser gets home, he finds his apartment building gone: all that remains is a pile of blackened rubble, the result of a 'performance arsonist.' Worse yet, when he arrives at the precinct, he finds a stranger masquerading as Ray Vecchio and, curiously, no one seems to realize this except Fraser.
Fraser decides to go along with this ruse, all the while utilizing a variety of detection techniques (fingerprints, dental imprints, etc.) as he tries to unravel who the mysterious person is who now answers to the name Ray Vecchio.
Along the way, Ray's house is torched (Fraser rescues both Frannie and her perpetually unemployed brother-in-law, Tony, but the goldfish befalls a foul fate when Diefenbaker eats him). Fraser finds more evidence: fragments of perfume bottles have been found at both arson sites.
A visit to an institution for the criminally insane to see the only arsonist who might be seeking revenge yields a potential suspect: Greta Garbo (not the deceased actress, but a deranged girlfriend).
Fraser and 'Ray' end up at the Canadian Consulate, where Fraser almost mistakes Thatcher's new muscular interior decorator for an arsonist due to the man's choice of cologne. Ray spots the real arsonist outside the Canadian Consulate and they give chase, unaware that she has sabotaged the Riv. As Fraser crawls all over the outside of the vehicle looking for a bomb, 'Ray' decides to confess the deception to the Mountie, who unfortunately doesn't hear a word of it. The bomb is set when 'Ray' hits the horn and soon the Riv is engulfed in flames. The only place to safely ditch the blazing vehicle is straight into Lake Michigan. The two men and Dief swim to safety, only to encounter Garbo threatening them with a gun on the dock. 'Ray' steps in front of the Mountie, taking a bullet in the chest. Fraser then disarms and ties up the woman. 'Ray' is all right; however, as he was wearing a bullet-proof vest, but he's happy to hear Fraser call him 'Ray.'
Fraser presents all his evidence to Welsh, material which all refutes that the new 'Ray' is in fact the real Ray Vecchio. Welsh, who has been stuck with IRS agents and auditors that entire day, fills in Fraser on the facts: Ray has gone undercover with the Mob and the new man is filling his shoes so no one is the wiser. Fraser will have to join in on the subterfuge in order to keep the real Ray Vecchio safe.
It looks like the beginning of an interesting partnership!
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Copyright 1996 - 2002 by
William R. and