Review: Scrublands – Chris Hammer

 

Scrublands by Chris Hammer

Scrublands

Chris Hammer

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760632984

 

Description:

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.

 

 

My View:

 “The house is yelling now, screaming in its extremity: screeching steel, exploding timber, roaring fire, drowning out the sound of the receding dragon. Martin is soaking inside his overalls but his face feels paper-dry. He looks at the others, their faces red as if sunburnt. He watches as the shutter on the other side of the window begins to smoke and burn, slowly, almost apologetically. Smoke is gushing under the corridor door. Martin begins to cough uncontrollably, his throat raw.” P. 104

 

Can you feel it? Can you see it? Can you smell it? Bush fire engulfing the house… Chris Hammer delivers a crime thriller like no other. The prose is divine, sometimes irreverent which adds a little dose of humour to the read. You will find yourself transported to small rural town Australia, a town fighting to survive, a town and its inhabitants facing pressures from all sides – Mother Nature is not kind, the extreme weather conditions affecting all, the economy is slowly suffocating resilience out of the town.  The misdeeds of the past and the present collide to bring out the best and the worst in people.

 

This is a spectacular whydunnit that asks the big questions re history and the information we assimilate daily. Whose account of history are we hearing? Who benefits from this dialogue?  Whose agenda is behind this? What /where is the gain? Whose truth are we listening to, influenced by?

 

A fabulous 5 star read – a new author to add to your “Must Read” list and one to add to my “Best of 2018” list. I can’t wait to see this on the big screen and to read what is coming next from this author.

 

 

 

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