After the Fire

Someone is dead because of Jamie. Yesterday they were alive. When we woke up yesterday and argued about how many pairs of shoes I could take, that person was alive, making coffee maybe. Scratching her arm or yawning in the mirror…

Newly qualified as a firearms officer, Jamie Worth is called to a domestic disturbance. Events get out of hand, and he shoots and kills a teenaged girl who appears to have been unarmed. Already wracked with guilt, he is horrified when, with the media baying for blood, he is accused of murder. How can a cop survive in prison, when he suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the law? And how can his wife Cath and ex-lover Anna come to terms with what has happened? From the author of THE TWILIGHT TIME, AFTER THE FIRE is a chilling glimpse of the flipside of life as a law enforcer, written in ‘stiletto-sharp prose’. (The Herald)


Reviews for After the Fire


Scotland on Sunday (15/03/09)

IT’S DIFFICULT to convey precisely what makes reading After The Fire so gripping. Campbell’s representations of the wreckage left (after a police shooting) are deft. The book’s central panel is bookended simply ‘Before’ and ‘After’, sharply singling out Jamie’s trauma as something outwith normal comprehension, and the fates of beleaguered wife Cath and children Eilidh and Daniel are the work of delicate observation. Though the inside and outside are worlds apart, the two narratives move in tandem, and their convergence ratchets the tension up masterfully.

Pacey plot and involving characters aside, the fabric of Campbell’s writing is admirable. With it, she subtly creates a protagonist in Glasgow, all banter and swagger, in spite of its pocked, violent underbelly. Bigger than the sum of its parts, and transcending its thriller label, this is a canvas of human nature, of “finding grace in tiny things”, of love and loss and heartbreak and how ordinary people recover after the fire. If you can contain all this is one novel, and contain it well, that’ll be what makes it so good.


Daily Record (21/03/09)

The characters from Campbell’s blistering debut The Twilight Time return and they bring with them the sharp, perceptive prose and meticulous attention to detail that are fast establishing the author as a literary force to be reckoned with. (03/09)

The vivid descriptions in this book are so powerful that the pictures remain with the reader long after finishing the book. The horror of Jamie’s incarceration and his dealing with both the demons within and the monsters without are so clearly described that it has an immediate emotional impact. Both the beautifully observed details and the sensitive understanding of relationships are outstanding. This is not a comfortable read. The subject matter is very violent, but it is a most satisfying book that uses the crime genre to explore relationships and life in a most revealing way.


Daily Express Review (20/03/09)

How much support do we give to those whom we entrust with our lives? It’s a question Britain has long struggled with, and our record is not great.

This is the issue Scots author Karen Campbell brilliantly explores in her second novel After the Fire. Newly qualified firearms officer Jamie Worth is called to a confused scene in Glasgow. At the end of it, a young girl lies dead, Worth beside her, traumatised and covered in her blood. In the aftermath, society and his fellow officers are quick to condemn, and the young father finds himself charged, convicted and incarcerated for murder.

Both a gripping thriller and a moving psychological study, After the Fire shows Campbell, herself a former police officer, to be a writer of immense talent and emotional power, and on the brink of huge success.


Daily Mail Review (13/03/09)

It’s a cracking plot, and Campbell’s writing is informed not only by her own experiences, but by the considerable amount of research she has put into the legal and psychological risks run by firearms officers.


News of The World Review (15/03/09)

Campbell, an ex-copper herself, is already a force to be reckoned with in her native Scotland with her dynamite debut The Twilight Time. But After the Fire looks set to cement her reputation across the country…(as) she handles this topical and gripping tale with expert skill.