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Scrublands: Book summary and reviews of Scrublands by Chris Hammer

Scrublands

by Chris Hammer

Scrublands by Chris Hammer X
Scrublands by Chris Hammer
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  • Published Jan 2019
    384 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

In the vein of The Dry and Before the Fall, a town's dark secrets come to light in the aftermath of a young priest's unthinkable last act in this arresting and searing debut thriller.

In Riversend, an isolated rural community afflicted by an endless drought, a young priest does the unthinkable, killing five parishioners before being taken down himself.

A year later, accompanied by his own demons from war-time reporting, journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend. His assignment is simple: describe how the townspeople are coping as the anniversary of their tragedy approaches. But as Martin meets the locals and hears their version of events, he begins to realize that the accepted wisdom - that the priest was a pedophile whose imminent exposure was the catalyst for the shooting, a theory established through an award-winning investigation by Martin's own newspaper - may be wrong.

Just as Martin believes he's making headway, a new development rocks the town. The bodies of two German backpackers - missing since the time of the church shootings - are discovered in a dam in the scrublands, deserted backwoods marked by forest fires. As the media flocks to the scene, Martin finds himself thrown into a whole new mystery.

What was the real reason behind the priest's shooting spree? And how does it connect to the backpacker murders, if at all? Martin struggles to uncover the town's dark secrets, putting his job, his mental state, and his life at risk as more and more strange happenings escalate around him.

For fans of James Lee Burke, Jane Harper, and Robert Crais, Scrublands is a compelling and original crime novel that marks Chris Hammer as a stunning new voice in the genre. A compulsively readable thriller of the highest order, Scrublands never loosens its grip, from its opening scene to the very last page.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. 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

"A novel's opening moments are there to rivet readers' attention; this one begins with a dazzler... we're hooked." - Booklist

"A compulsively page-turning thriller where the parched interior looms as large as the characters." - The Guardian

"Scrublands is the epic novel about rural life ... that we need right now. In its concern with crime beyond the suburban fringe, it sits right up there with the late Peter Temple's Broken Shore, Garry Disher's Bitterwash Road and Jane Harper's The Dry, even as it extends their focus and reach." - Sydney Morning Herald

"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

"Compelling...highly recommended." - Dervla McTiernan

"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

"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

"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

"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

This information about Scrublands was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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More Information

Christopher Hammer lives in Australia and has been a journalist for over twenty-five years. He has been an international correspondent, the chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, and a senior political journalist for The Age.

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