Try free for 2 months

  • The Arsonist

  • By: Chloe Hooper
  • Narrated by: Sibylla Budd
  • Length: 6 hrs and 39 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (306 ratings)

1 credit a month to use on any title, yours to keep (you’ll use your first credit on this title).
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
Access to exclusive deals and discounts.
AUD $16.45/mo after 2 months. Renews automatically. Cancel anytime.
The Arsonist cover art

The Arsonist

By: Chloe Hooper
Narrated by: Sibylla Budd
Try for $0.00

AUD $16.45/mo after 2 months. Renews automatically. Cancel anytime.

Buy Now for $21.99

Buy Now for $21.99

Pay using voucher balance (if applicable) then card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions Of Use and Privacy Notice and authorise Audible to charge your designated credit card or another available credit card on file.

Publisher's Summary

The Arsonist takes listeners inside the hunt for a fire-lighter. After Black Saturday, a February 2009 day marked by 47 degree heat and firestorms, arson squad detectives arrived at a plantation on the edge of a 26,000-hectare burn site. Eleven people had just been killed and hundreds made homeless. Here, in the Latrobe Valley, where Victoria's electricity is generated, and the rates of unemployment, crime and domestic abuse are the highest in the state, more than 30 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 tells a remarkable detective story, as the police close in on someone they believe to be a cunning offender, and a puzzling psychological story, as defence lawyers seek to understand the motives of a man who, they claimed, was a naif that had accidentally dropped a cigarette.

It is the story not only of this fire - how it happened, the people who died, the aftermath for the community - but of fire in this country. What it has done, what it has meant, what it might yet do. Bushfire is one of Australia's deepest anxieties, never more so than when deliberately lit. Arson, wrote Henry Lawson, expresses a malice 'terrifying to those who have seen what it is capable of. You never know when you are safe.'

As she did in The Tall Man, Chloe Hooper takes us to a part of the country seldom explored and reveals something buried but essential in our national psyche. The bush, summertime, a smouldering cigarette - none of these will feel the same again.

©2018 Chloe Hooper (P)2018 Penguin Random House Australia

More from the same

What listeners say about The Arsonist

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    197
  • 4 Stars
    82
  • 3 Stars
    24
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    170
  • 4 Stars
    75
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    171
  • 4 Stars
    69
  • 3 Stars
    21
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Incredibly powerful - wow.

This is all of the best things that investigative journalism and true crime writing can be. It's clever, clear-eyed, nuanced and compassionate. It explores the terrible events of Black Saturday, and the arson crime that was committed to light one of the many fires that burnt on the day. I love they way Chloe Hooper doesn't accept any easy answers about justice, crime and accountability. The police investigation and the details of the court case are so fascinating. Both the writing and the reading are terrific and it's a powerful listen. Highly recommended, particularly if you enjoy well written true crime and especially if you liked the Tall Man or any of Helen Garner's non fiction.


Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • RCF
  • 13-12-2018

Dire narrator utterly ruins compelling story

I’m not sure if the author has heard this version, but surely the producers at Audible thought the writing deserved better than this?

Tonally flat, no emotion, or range - at times it was like hearing a shopping list being read out.

I urge fans of the author go out and buy the book to enjoy the full weight and grace of her writing style.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

a must read

this was a gripping and unimaginable story told by a 'narrator of worth 'who gave an authentic read for the listener . As a volunteer firefighter it sent chills up my spine

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A wonder of a book

Chloe’s ability to tell an ugly, jarring story so beautifully was stunning. Those involved were described with depth and consideration and the lines between good and evil were aptly blurred.

The story was told in all its complexity against the backdrop of a brutal but beautiful landscape. The interweaving of science, psychology, human relationships, law,
economy and nature was seamlessly skillful.

Extraordinary book, beautifully narrated by Sybilla.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Engaging structure, misses broader insights

Overall I found the story structure very compelling. Chloe Hooper had me thinking and feeling as the victims, first responders and officers of court were as events unfolded. Experiences were tragically evoked with poetic writing that was even beautiful at times. I wish the book focused more on the backgrounds, challenges and breakthroughs of witnesses and officials involved in the case.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Australian essential reading

I went into this novel nervous as I was sure it would frame Brendan Sokaluk in only a negative light, and being someone with lived experience of ASD I was worried it would focus on how Brendan being Autistic led him to being a fire lighter. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the balance between acknowledging that what Brendan was accused of doing (and evidence does make it seem this was very likely Brendan) was truly awful, whilst also discussing the potential reasons that Brendan may have lit the fires and how he has been constantly misunderstood. The book also questions why Brendan was blamed for so much, especially in the media who claim he caused the deaths of over 100 people. This is despite the vast majority of the Black Saturday bushfires being a result of a poorly maintained electrical grid that saw the owning company only have to pay damages to the families of the deceased despite much more widespread damage than what they ended up paying for.

I believe this is an excellent novel for anyone interested in true crime, and also is essential reading for all Australian's who want to know more about the Black Saturday bushfires, as well as bushfires and firebugs in general across the nation.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting and harrowing recount

An interesting, well rounded look into the black Saturday bush fires. The author does an excellent job at telling the story from the point of the victims, firefighters and the accused. It was a little slow in the middle when focussing on legal jargon but overall if you are into true crime, this is an excellent listen.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling. Well-written and performed

The story of the fire runs deeper, into disability and social exclusion. The book is personal but provides great social commentary.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it

Loved the descriptions of the fires. Of the people. Having working in a tangential way on the black Saturday fire it was truly wonderful to hear this.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Compelling story

A glimpse into what it feels like to be swallowed by a fire. I had no idea. Also a look at the guilty firebug from two perspectives. Very interesting.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.