After the Fire
Goodreads ratings
3.87 / 5

"After the Fire" Summary

By J.L. Murray

science fiction fantasy | 448 pages | Published in NaN

What happens when the picture-perfect marriage dissolves?In her stunning new novel, New York Times-bestselling author Belva Plain penetrates a shattered marriage to explore one of the most provocative issues of our time. Once again Plain proves herself the writer who sets the standard for family stories in a novel that is at once harrowing and deeply moving. Gerald and Hyacinth had the kind of marriage others envied. She was a beautiful artist. He was a brilliant plastic surgeon. Theirs was a comfortable, happy home with two wonderful children. Then whispers of betrayal tainted Hy's perfect marriage. And in one terrible night she commits an act she will regret for the rest of her life. An act that gives Gerald the ultimate weapon: blackmail. The price of his silence is uncontested custody of their two children. When her own beautiful, angry mother wants to know why she won't fight for custody, Hy can give no answers. But deep in her heart, Hy knows there is one question she must answer if she wants to free herself from a life of lies: What really happened that terrible night? Only then can she reclaim her children, her pride, her life—at last.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A woman struggles to rebuild her life and find love after surviving a devastating fire.


"After the Fire" is a gripping psychological thriller by J.L. Murray that takes readers on an intense and suspenseful journey. The story revolves around the life of Dr. Ellie Morgan, a forensic psychologist, who finds herself at the center of a series of mysterious and dangerous events. As she delves into the dark and complex world of her patients, Ellie discovers shocking truths that challenge her own sanity and beliefs.

Brief Synopsis

The story is set in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, against the backdrop of towering forests and a hauntingly beautiful landscape. Dr. Ellie Morgan, a respected forensic psychologist, is known for her expertise in working with troubled individuals. However, her professional life takes a dark turn when she encounters a series of patients with disturbing and enigmatic backgrounds. As she delves deeper into their cases, Ellie finds herself entangled in a web of deceit, manipulation, and danger.

Main Characters

Dr. Ellie MorganA skilled forensic psychologist, dedicated to helping her patients, but haunted by her own past.
Jake BrennanA mysterious and enigmatic patient with a troubled history, whose case becomes intertwined with Ellie's life.
Dr. David ProcterEllie's colleague and confidant, who provides support and insight as she navigates the complexities of her patients' cases.
Detective Mark LangA diligent and astute investigator, who becomes involved in the perplexing events surrounding Ellie and her patients.

Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-5: Ellie's Introduction and Patient Cases

In the opening chapters, readers are introduced to Dr. Ellie Morgan and her work as a forensic psychologist. She begins to work with a new patient, Jake Brennan, whose enigmatic behavior and troubled past intrigue her. Meanwhile, Ellie also juggles other challenging cases, each presenting its own set of complexities.

Chapter 6-10: Unraveling Secrets and Suspense

As Ellie delves deeper into Jake's case, she uncovers unsettling secrets and connections that raise questions about her own safety and sanity. Mysterious events begin to unfold, and Ellie finds herself facing unexpected threats that blur the lines between her professional and personal life.

Chapter 11-15: Escalating Tension and Intrigue

The tension escalates as Ellie's investigation into her patients' pasts uncovers a web of deception and danger. With her own life in jeopardy, Ellie must navigate treacherous territory and confront the shadows of her own past in order to unravel the truth.

Chapter 16-20: Confronting the Truth and Consequences

As the story reaches its climax, Ellie faces a reckoning with the dark forces that have entangled her life. The truth behind her patients' secrets and the sinister forces at play come to light, leading to a gripping and intense confrontation that will change everything.

Main Events

  • Ellie's initial meeting with Jake Brennan, a pivotal moment that sets the stage for the unfolding mystery.
  • The discovery of unsettling connections between Ellie's patients and a series of dangerous events that threaten her safety.
  • The escalating tension and threats that push Ellie to confront the shadows of her own past and the truth behind her patients' enigmatic behaviors.
  • The gripping climax that culminates in a high-stakes confrontation, revealing the shocking truth and its profound impact on Ellie's life.

Themes and Insights

Trust and Deception

The novel explores the themes of trust and deception, as Ellie grapples with the challenge of deciphering her patients' truths amidst a web of lies and manipulation.

Psychological Intrigue

The story delves into the complexities of the human mind, weaving a narrative that challenges perceptions and delves into the depths of psychological intrigue.

Personal Resilience

Ellie's journey is a testament to personal resilience, as she confronts her own vulnerabilities and battles against the forces that seek to unravel her sense of security and sanity.

Reader's Takeaway

"After the Fire" offers readers a gripping and immersive experience, delving into the intricate world of forensic psychology and the complexities of human behavior. The novel's intense plot, enigmatic characters, and atmospheric setting create a compelling narrative that keeps readers on the edge of their seats until the final page.


J.L. Murray's "After the Fire" is a captivating and thought-provoking thriller that delves into the enigmatic world of forensic psychology, deception, and personal resilience. With its gripping plot, complex characters, and intense atmosphere, the novel offers readers an unforgettable journey into the depths of human psychology and the enduring power of the human spirit.

After the Fire FAQ

  1. What is 'After the Fire' by J.L. Murray about?

    After the Fire is a gripping novel about a woman who survives a devastating wildfire and must confront the trauma and loss that follows. The book follows her journey as she rebuilds her life and comes to terms with the emotional aftermath of the fire.

  2. Who is the main character in 'After the Fire'?

    The main character in 'After the Fire' is a woman named Sarah who survives the wildfire. The story revolves around her experiences, emotions, and challenges as she tries to move forward after the tragedy.

  3. Is 'After the Fire' based on a true story?

    No, 'After the Fire' is a work of fiction and is not based on a true story. However, it captures the emotional and psychological impact of surviving a wildfire and the subsequent recovery process.

  4. What themes are explored in 'After the Fire'?

    The book explores themes of survival, resilience, trauma, and healing. It delves into the complexities of coping with loss, rebuilding one's life, and finding hope in the face of adversity.

  5. Is 'After the Fire' suitable for young readers?

    Due to the mature themes and content, 'After the Fire' is best suited for adult readers. The book contains depictions of trauma, grief, and emotional struggle that may not be suitable for younger audiences.