The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire
About the book
On the day that became known as Black Saturday, one man deliberately lit two fires near the small town of Churchill, Gippsland, then sat on the roof of his house and watched the flames. The Arsonist takes readers on the hunt for this man, and inside the strange puzzle of his mind. It is also the story of fire in this country, and of a community that owed its existence to that very element. A powerful real-life thriller written with lyric detail and nuance, The Arsonist is a reminder that in an age of fire, all of us are gatekeepers.
About the author
Chloe Hooper is the author of two novels, A Child’s Book of True Crime and The Engagement, and The Tall Man, which won the Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australian Premier’s Awards for Non-Fiction as well as the John Button Prize for Political Writing, and a Ned Kelly Award for crime writing. The Arsonist is her fourth book.
For Australians, nothing is more terrifying or ubiquitous than bush fires. In this fine book, Hooper explores the unthinkable, the mind of an arsonist. While it would be easy to approach this subject sensationally and judgmentally, Chloe Hooper instead focuses on understanding. Underpinned by meticulous research, this beautifully rendered book draws the reader into an unexpected journey. She combines vivid and terrifying descriptions of the fires and their impact, with an exploration of the social disadvantage that leads to the social disconnection of the arsonist both from his local community and society more generally. The complexity of the legal system, the social isolation of the perpetrator, and the ramifications of the events provide context for an intricate portrait of the arsonist, his actions and their consequences. With the eye of an incisive observer, Hooper weaves a powerful narrative that connects the very human obsession with fire, with the desire to be seen and noticed. This is a book that demonstrates the consequences associated with the inequalities of access to health care, legal representation and economic opportunity.