Customer Review

Reviewed in Australia on 26 October 2021
HAMMER NAILS IT
Somebody was always going to make that pun, so better me than you!
I am a long-term fan of Chris Hammer’s work, and I think that this one tops the lot.
‘Treasure and Dirt’ has everything. In no particular order: hard-bitten characters, a cult, grooming, possible incest, drunkenness, drugs, sex, violence, mining magnates, Chinese (?) investors, grey nomads, flies, heat, bad food, goodies and baddies, a ‘villain’ who knows that the world doesn’t like him but believes that he is doing a good and necessary job.
There is an exposition of the workings of the stock market and a paean to the virtuous place of the big burger in the Australian diet.
There are gentle references, hardly concealed, in the naming of minor characters and places.
Stereotypes are broken: there is a clean outback motel, a courteous manager of a hire care firm who runs his family business in a regional city with the efficiency and élan of a capital city Head Office.
The characters, both main and minor, are drawn deftly. There is a group of helpful clowns who would not be out of place in a Shakespearean comedy.
As well as a macabre killing in the present, there is an unsolved crime in the past – ‘nothing can stay buried forever’ – which is also solved.
So, I recommend ‘Treasure and Dirt’ as a well-written Australian police procedural novel, but I also commend it for the way Chris Hammer establishes the atmosphere of ‘place’, skill of the plotting, the deftness of its character definition and the clarity of its prose.
It is a book that ought to be on some Reading List for some course in Aust Lit at some tertiary institution. (Or the HSC?)
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