On the scorching February day in 2009 that became known as Black Saturday, a man lit two fires in Victoria's Latrobe Valley, then sat on the roof of his house to watch the inferno.
In the Valley, where the rates of crime were the highest in the state, more than thirty people were known to police as firebugs.
But the detectives soon found themselves on the trail of a man they didn't know.
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 Australia, and of a community that owed its existence to that very element.
The command of fire has defined and sustained us as a species - understanding its abuse will define our future.
A powerful real-life thriller written with Hooper's trademark lyric detail and nuance, The Arsonist is a reminder that in an age of fire, all of us are gatekeepers. Praise for other titles by Chloe Hooper 'Life springs from every page of this enthralling book.' - Helen Garner 'A gripping, heart-stopping piece of true-crime reportage . . . Deserves the widest possible audience.' - Sunday Times 'It is impossible to overestimate the importance of this book.' - Peter Carey 'A sad, beautiful, frightening account of one man's pointless death . . . Every character is explored for their contradictions, every situation observed for its nuances, every easy judgement suspended . . . Hooper finds the common humanity in the accused and the accuser, the police officer and the street drinker, the living and the dead.' - Mark Dapin, Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald