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Scrublands - Chris Hammer

Paperback Published: 25th July 2018
ISBN: 9781760632984
Number Of Pages: 496

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Set in a fictional Riverina town at the height of a devastating drought, Scrublands is one of the most powerful, compelling and original crime novels to be written in Australia.

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. The bodies of two backpackers - missing since the time of the church shootings - are found in a dam in the scrublands. It's the biggest story in Australia. The media descends on Riversend and Martin finds himself caught 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.

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 30 countries on six continents. In Canberra, roles included chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, current affairs correspondent for SBS TV and a senior political journalist for The Age.

His first 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 and the Manning Clark House National Cultural Award.

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.

Capturing real Australia


Descriptive Australia and keeps you intrigued till the end

Jervis Bay NSW




Great page turner. Had me guessing. A lot of twist and turns.



Fantastic book I would recommend it to everyone!


Don't have a lot of time to read so I love it when I find a book that grabs me from the first page and keeps me interested!



A Good read


A good book keeps your interest to the end



Fantastic book by a fantastic Aussie writer.


I felt as if I were in this town. Chris Hammers writing is so descriptive and a refreshingly different take on your usual murder mysteries. Fantastic book.. Just loved it.



Great Plot


Great Aussie crime/mystery novel. I was keen all the way through to find out why he did it and there's extra reveals and twists thrown in!!



lost in a haze of dust and heat


For me the initial appeal of this book was its setting. Publicity mentioned the story was based in a small Riverina town. I live alongside the Riverina region, and my wife grew up in an area very much like the town at the centre of this book. Riversend is a small, struggling drought-stricken town, thrown into the national spotlight when its priest shoots five of the locals outside the church prior to a Sunday service. Approaching the anniversary of the tragedy, city journalist Martin Scarsden has the job of discovering how the town is coping a year later. After arriving in the town, he discovers there may be a more important story to tell. He soon finds one seemingly straightforward crime becomes increasingly complicated when previously unknown crimes, with possible connections to the church-side murders, come to light. I loved the build-up of complexity within this story; with the author introducing several new plot strands, before bringing them all together in a coherent and plausible conclusion, that makes sense of the original shooting. One of the best books I've read this year

Country NSW


Classic Reading


A Brilliant Plot & development. Perhaps the denouement was a bit fast & furious but a graeat read.



Great read!


Could not put this book down!



Too long and involved


Began well but way too long and very confusing in the end

Nana Glen



4.6 11


ISBN: 9781760632984
ISBN-10: 1760632988
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 496
Published: 25th July 2018
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3