Scrublands by Chris Hammer – Review.

About The Book

In an isolated country town ravaged by drought, a charismatic young priest opens fire on his congregation, killing five men before being shot dead himself. 

A year later, journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals don’t fit with the accepted version of events. 

Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking discovery rocks the town. The bodies of two backpackers – missing since the time of the massacre – are found in the scrublands. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is the one in the spotlight. 

Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to uncover a truth that becomes 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.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have wanted to read Scrublands for months but never seemed to have the time. After seeing the author appear at a crime festival last year and listening to a few online interviews during the lockdown I decided that now was the time. It was well worth the wait and nothing like I expected. I was totally unprepared for how many different threads there were and it is down to the author’s expertise that they all worked, were all believable and were all connected by the end.

Riversend is the type of town that is down on its luck. Little business is open, the hot weather is relentless and it’s inhabitants are struggling to move on from the tragic events of the previous year. Martin is there to see how they are coping but he soon realises that they are not. And their torment is far from over. 

I have to admit that I do struggle with journalism in fiction, it is too easy to see only the worst side of the profession. The ones who would do anything for their story. They do feature in this novel, but Martin isn’t one of them. He does want his story but also has a conscience and knows that he what he wants to write can hurt many people. 

Whilst the investigation is fascinating I also liked reading about the attempts to hold back a bush fire. Nothing you see on the news can prepare you for what this must be like to live through. The ferocity, the heat and the claustrophobic atmosphere that is created very quickly. 

I am aware that this book has been adapted for TV, it’s one that I would definitely watch. Meanwhile bring on Silver, book two in the trilogy. 

One Reply to “Scrublands by Chris Hammer – Review.”

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