An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England, Paperback Book

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England Paperback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Sam Pulsifer has come to the end of a very long and unusual journey.

He spent ten years in prison for accidentally burning down poet Emily Dickinson's house - and unwittingly killing two people in the process.

He emerged aged twenty-eight and set about creating a new life for himself.

He went to college, found love, got married, fathered two children, and made a new start - and then watched in almost-silent awe as the vengeful past caught up with him, right at his own front door. As, one by one, the homes of other famous New England writers are torched, Sam knows that this time he is most certainly not guilty.

To prove his innocence, he sets out to uncover the identity of this literary-minded arsonist.

What he discovers, and how he deals with the reality of his discoveries, is both hilariously funny and heartbreakingly sad.

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England is a novel disguised as a memoir; a deeply affecting story about truth and honesty and the damage they do.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Crime & mystery
  • ISBN: 9780099532965

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I expect to see this in 'if they liked x they'll love y' piles with Chuck Phulack novels in Christmas gift-buying lists. (This is a good thing.) Clarke has created such a strong voice for his protagonist – Sam – that even though Sam is a convicted arsonist with the social skills of someone who missed out on Human Interaction 101, you can’t help but get sucked into his story. The first-person voice is dry, wry, and honest, as events expose the gaps between the truth as we tell it and the truth that we get. The combination manages to raise a smile while being quite unsettling.