Follow the Author
Scrublands (Martin Scarsden Book 1) Kindle Edition
|New from||Used from|
In an isolated country town brought to its knees by endless drought, a charismatic and dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners before being shot dead himself.
A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals about the priest and incidents leading up to the shooting don't fit with the accepted version of events his own newspaper reported in an award-winning investigation. Martin can't ignore his doubts, nor the urgings of some locals to unearth the real reason behind the priest's deadly rampage.
Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking new development rocks the town, which becomes the biggest story in Australia. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is now the one in the spotlight. His reasons for investigating the shooting have suddenly become very personal.
Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to discover a truth that becomes darker and more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town's secrets stay buried.
A compulsive thriller that will haunt you long after you have turned the final page.
Kindle Monthly Deals
New deals each month starting at $1.49. Learn more
"Scrublands kidnapped me for 48 hours. I was hopelessly lost in the scorching Australian landscape, disoriented but completely immersed in the town and people of Riversend, as the heat crackled off the pages. I was devastated when it was time to go back to the real world. This book is a force of nature. A must-read for all crime fiction fans."--Sarah Bailey, author of THE DARK LAKE and INTO THE NIGHT
"[A] gritty debut....sensitively rendered."-- "New York Times Book Review"
"A compulsively page-turning thriller where the parched interior looms as large as the characters."-- "The Guardian"
"A heatwave of a novel, scorching and powerful. This extraordinary debut, perfect for readers of the magnificent Jane Harper, seared my eyes and singed my heart. Don't miss it."--A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
"A novel's opening moments are there to rivet readers' attention; this one begins with a dazzler. . . we're hooked."-- "Booklist"
"An evocative and compelling page-turner, and a deft unravelling of small town secrets and the legacy of trauma, amid the suffocating heat of a drought-ravaged Australian scrub; I was hooked!"--Paul Howarth, author of ONLY KILLERS AND THIEVES
"An indisputable page-turner."-- "Associated Press"
"As evocative and haunted as the American Southwest, Chris Hammer's Australian-set Scrublands is desolate, dangerous, and combustible. A complex novel powered by a cast of characters with motives and loyalties as ever-shifting as the dry riverbed beneath them, Hammer's story catches fire from the first page."--J. Todd Scott, author of THE FAR EMPTY and HIGH WHITE SUN
"Chris Hammer's powerful debut Scrublands establishes his place among the handful of thriller writers who understand the importance of setting as character, deftly weaving the story of a landscape burned dry and a town whose residents are barely hanging on with a complicated mystery that could only happen in this place in exactly the way Hammer tells it. Fresh and hypnotic, complex and layered, Scrublands' gorgeous prose swept me up and carried me toward a conclusion that was both surprising and inevitable. I loved every word. Highly recommended." --Karen Dionne, international bestselling author of THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER
"Compelling...highly recommended."--Dervla McTiernan, author of THE RUIN
"Debut thriller of the month (and maybe of 2019)....Beautifully written."-- "The Washington Post"
"Shimmers with heat from the sun and from the passions that drive a tortured tale of blood and loss."
"Stellar. . . .Richly descriptive writing coupled with deeply developed characters, relentless pacing, and a bombshell-laden plot make this whodunit virtually impossible to put down."-- "Publishers Weekly, starred review" --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
Chris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. For many years he was a roving foreign correspondent for SBS TV's flagship current affairs program Dateline. He has reported from more than thirty countries on six continents.
Chris's non-fiction book, The River, published in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award. Scrublands, his first novel, was published in 2018 and won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, as well as being shortlisted for Best Debut Fiction at the Indie Book Awards, and Best General Fiction at the ABIA Awards. It has also been longlisted for the Ned Kelly Best Crime Novel of the Year. Scrublands was optioned for television by Easy Tiger (a FremantleMedia company).
Chris has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University and a master's degree in international relations from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra with his wife, Dr Tomoko Akami. The couple have two children.
- ASIN : B079Z1VHZL
- Publisher : Allen & Unwin (1 April 2019)
- Language : English
- File size : 2768 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: 1,123 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Review this product
Read reviews that mention
Top reviews from Australia
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The book is peopled with a wide range of interesting and eccentric characters, including the requisite single beautiful young mother who forms a complicated relationship with Martin, and several police types, including a spook - a man from ASIO, no less. Why should ASIO be interested? Martin gets the blame when the sergeant from a neighbouring town apparently commits suicide. His job goes up in smoke. One of the best things about this book is the inside running we get on how the media operate. A doyen of a commercial channel is wrong-footed. Schadenfreude! Like many books of this genre, we are privy to the investigators’ trains of thought which help us track the complicated developments in case we’ve forgotten anything. Suffice to say, it’s a rollicking good read, plus it gives an entirely accurate picture of drought in small, dying rural towns.
The plot. Wow.
We have a multiple homicide to start. Then scarred war victim (never really dig into that - except to note..he is still haunted...uh huh) now journalist following up on shooting 12 months later (it's on the back cover - no spoiler). But within days of arriving???? Witness to a car accident - saves a life - not sure how much he does) then beds the beautiful, and I mean beautiful, young shopkeeper - I mean, she is beautiful. We get told this a lot. and on we go...so many plot shortcuts that I really got annoyed. I finished this book under huge sufferance as it is about regional Australia..not outback. Just rural....and it is so parched, dry, hot...oh yes, I forgot...it's really hot. The escalating subplots defy belief. This book is almost worth reading to admire the chutzpah of the publisher and the author to print this mess.
The plot lines are solid and the gradual reveal of the mystery were timed perfectly.
If I have one small criticism it would be the ending. But it in no way takes away from the storyline.
Great job and I hope the author releases more in the near future.
Top reviews from other countries
The basic premise of a journalist investigating a “whydunit” as opposed to a “whodunit” was a good one and Mr Hammer showed, particularly in some of the exciting set-pieces, that he can definitely write. However, without trying to give away too many spoilers, the body count and the plot lines start to mount up and this small, isolated Australian town seems to become the centre for an astonishing range of different crimes. And does the author really have to spend quite so much time telling us how hot it is. I think we get the message.
I finished this book because despite its flaws, it is a page-turner but I would have enjoyed it far more if a ruthless editor had got their hands on it before it was released and explained to the author the virtues of simplicity.
The book has been compared by many people to “The Dry” but Jane Harper’s debut novel was a stunning piece of literary fiction whereas Scrublands is a so-so thriller that could and should have been much better.
Interested to learn that this is a bestseller in Australia. I think its appeal rests on local details, rather than on its plot. Does not match up to the standards of Jane Harper's Australian-noir, at least as far as I am concerned.
Recommended as a very unusual detective story, nevertheless.
"Scrublands" seems to me to be the most ambitious undertaking of the three, as well as the most gripping. The action takes place in the outback of New South Wales in a largely impoverished town called Riversend. The narrative is kicked into action with a bizarre, multiple, and totally unexpected shooting incident. A further, apparently unconnected incident involving two German tourists ,has taken place sometime earlier in the Scrublands, which gives the book its title - a derelict area outside the town where little flourishes, a refuge for outcasts and outlaws, seldom visited by the townsfolk. It is not long before we are made aware that other acts of violence lie behind the current outbreaks.
All this brings to Riversend the central character, a Sydney journalist , Martin Scarsden, himself half-traumatised by his experiences during the Afghan war. It is through Martin that we encounter a medley of fascinating characters, all of whose lives are deeply coloured by their pasts and the unravelling events. Notable among these are: the mysterious Reverend Smith, Fran Landers, a convincing victim in so many ways, the beautiful Mandy blonde and her son Liam, the isolated and menacing Harley Snouch, Robbie Haus-Jones the town policeman, and others. More emerge as the plot moves beyond the confines of Riversend, to embrace major national issues.
Hammer evokes the world of Riversend so that it becomes vibrantly alive. He does this by some wonderfully descriptive writing, but even more by the characters, their relationships and their responses to the invasion of terrifying events into their seemingly dull, uneventful town. Parallel with all this are the flashbacks via dreams that invade Martin’s peace of mind.
I think that it might be plausibly argued that the movement outwards to encompass the media and government agencies, detracts from an already intricate plot. I have some sympathy with this view, but to have kept the attention exclusively on Riversend would have demanded a very different solution to the issues that Hammer has so carefully interwoven. An equally plausible answer is that Hammer handles the additional complications most adroitly and for me there was no significant relaxing of tension.
Hammer has won recognition for his non-fiction work, but for a first novel this seems to me an amazing success. I can only look forward to more fiction from this very talented writer. Judging by the three novels mentioned here, Australian fiction is in a very healthy state.