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For Frankie Rowley and her family, it's a time of transition. After working fifteen years in East Africa, she has returned to her parent's New Hampshire home, where all are feeling the effects of her dad's progressive dementia. On her very first night back, though, a more immediate threat flares when a nearby house burns down to cinders. Soon other fires erupt around the town and it becomes apparent that an arsonist is working in their midst, targeting "summer people," a revelation that deepens the rift between year-round residents and vacationers. As the intensity of these events mount, Frankie becomes passionately involved with Bud Jacobs, the town's newspaper owner and editor. Like previous Sue Miller novels (The Senator's Wife; While I Was Gone), The Arsonist probes serious questions even as it gathers suspense.