Scrublands by Chris Hammer


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 ...

Details Scrublands

Release DateJul 25th, 2018
PublisherAllen & Unwin
GenreMystery, Crime, Fiction, Cultural, Australia

Reviews Scrublands

  • Brenda
    Journalist Martin Scarsden was sent from his newspaper in Sydney, to the small town of Riversend in rural Victoria to cover the one year anniversary of the killings by a young priest of five members of his congregation, and how the town was coping in the aftermath of the tragedy. The incessant heat, the relentless drought, the hopelessness of the people – all struck Martin immediately. Shops had closed, the pub was no longer in operation – wa...
  • Carolyn
    Scrublands is a multilayered investigative crime novel which starts off as a seemingly simple assignment for journalist Martin Scarsden when he is sent by the Sydney Morning Herald to write a follow up feature on a mass shooting that occurred a year ago. Martin is still having nightmares about his last assignment in the Gaza strip where he endured a horrifying experience that nearly killed him and his editor thinks this assignment will help him r...
  • Marianne
    “It is, he knows full well, growing into a perfect summer story in the great tradition of Lindy Chamberlain and Schapelle Corby. A heady mixture of murder, religion and sex… a beautiful femme fatale to feed to the cameras, as well as perhaps the most crucial element of all: mystery. Why did Byron Swift open fire? Who did murder the pretty young backpackers? Were they raped and tortured, as alleged by the competition papers? All around Austral...
  • Mandy White
    I listened to this book on Audible and I just loved it. I felt like I was there in the small country town of Riverside. It would make a brilliant movie or TV series. I was totally absorbed in the book on my trips in the car to and from work. The characters are so realistic and all with their faults. This town might be small and remote but it was never dull! Looking forward to your next book Chris Hammer...a brilliant Aussie crime thriller!!
  • ☼♄Jülie 
    "And the tear runs down his cheek, falls towards the parched riverbed. He smiles at its futility."5*sJournalist Martin Scarsden's boss has sent him out to do a feature story in a small and isolated drought stricken town called Riversend in the Riverina area of New South Wales.Scarsden has been told that the story is to be an anniversary feature on how the town is coping one year on...It was almost one year earlier, that the tiny town was shaken t...
  • Liz Barnsley
    Scrublands is another top read of this year for me, entirely consuming from the moment I started it, beautifully descriptive writing in both character and setting plus an extraordinarily immersive story.Martin is an engaging character with realistic fault lines running through his personality- as he gets more and more involved with the small town, so indeed does the reader. The author captures the sense of place wonderfully, the eclectic occupant...
  • Ruth
    This book sucked me in and spat me out two days later. If you're put off by the length, don't be. There is so much going on in this book, such a complex and compelling mystery, that you won't even notice how long you've been reading. Hammer really captures the vibe of a drought stricken small town and the oppressive silence of a scorching hot Australian summer. You can definitely feel the author's journalist background shining through - the main ...
  • Jennifer (JC-S)
    ‘He looks down to where the river should be and sees instead a mosaic of cracked clay, baked and going to dust.’Riversend is an isolated country town, crippled by drought. One Sunday, a young and well-liked priest, shoots dead five parishioners outside St James Church before being shot dead himself. There’s speculation, but no-one knows why.Twelve months later, Martin Scarsden, a journalist dealing with some demons of his own, travels to Ri...
  • Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
    Scrublands by Chris Hammer is the real buzz book of the moment and I'm happy to report it's worth all of the hype. Scrublands is a whydunnit crime mystery about secrets, sex, murder and deception set in a fictional country town in the Riverina during a severe drought. Readers who wonder if this is going to be a rip off of The Dry by Jane Harper needn't worry, this is nothing like it.Martin is a journalist sent to Riversend to write a piece on the...
  • Karen
    Australian Rural Crime has arrived, there are novels showing up everywhere claiming this as their sub-genre, and SCRUBLANDS is the one that everyone is talking about. Film rights have been sold, everyone's reading it, most are raving about the book.So having a contrary opinion is obviously going to go down like a lead balloon, but in this case, this reader has to beg to differ. Personally, after reading, SCRUBLANDS, it's staying with me as an air...
  • Roy
    Aussie crime seems to be taking a stab at the rural setting of recent times. Take your standard crime scene set it out bush, story continues. I really didnt mind the start of this. We have the setup with the priest and the killings. A journalist then turns up and starts asking questions. Then it starts to build and build but slowly dies off to a point where it felt like too much was going on. My biggest issue is that some of the plot points just ...
  • Carol - Reading Writing and Riesling
    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 feel 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 b...
  • Heidi
    I had a feeling that this book would be good, but I had no idea how good! It sucked me into its vortex like a crazy tornado wreaking mayhem and destruction and slammed me back to Earth – dazed and disorientated – a few hours later. It’s possible that I stayed up all night reading to find out the answers! Now comes the moment when I should admit that I initially bought this book for my husband for his birthday, but seeing he had not picked i...
  • The Nerd Daily
    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Tasha LeighScrublands opens on the drought plagued Australian town of Riversend as the town’s priest, Byron Swift, opens fire on his congregation, killing five men in the process. Following his rampage, Swift is then gunned down by the local constabulary, quickly ending any chance of finding out what made the Man of God snap.Cut to 12 months later and Martin Scarsden, a reporter for the Herald,...
  • Mandy Radley
    Recommended to me by our local bookshop, Scrublands is just brilliant. Small isolated town in Australia, brought to its knees by the heat and endless drought, one Sunday just as the church service is about to commence the priest opens fire and guns down 5 towns men. A year later journalist Martin Scarsden is sent to Riversend to write about how the town is coping one year on. But as he digs deep, all is not what it seems, has he just uncovered a ...
  • Calzean
    Could there be anymore Australian caricatures then what’s in this book? A drought, bushfire, paedophilia involving the clergy, PTSD, returned soldiers from Afghanistan, a dying town, a broken man, a beautiful local, dopey cops, bikie gangs, drug trade, domestic violence, national secrets, family secrets, media fake news, rape, a nutty hermit, teenage drug use, back packer murders and a surprised inheritance. It’s all a bit too busy.
  • Gaby
    Yikes. That's was drawn-out and painful. I realise that this is not the type of book I typically read, but it sounded interesting and I was keen for a quick, easy read. I was very disappointed. The writing was clunky and predictably (stereotypically) 'Australian'. It was hard to plough through as nothing much was happening... That is, until everything happened. While reading this book, I spent most of my time gazing longingly at the other novels ...
  • Nola
    Scrublands is an explosive thriller that leaves you breathless at every turn. Riversend is a town already suffering from a slow death due to drought when a beloved priest opens fire on his flock in a seemingly senseless attack. The town's smouldering secrets are exposed and relayed with intense ferocity. A must read for crime lovers.
  • Allyce Cameron
    3.5* I enjoyed this one but didn’t think it was amazing, maybe because it’s been so hyped up and I went in with really high expectations. There was SO MUCH going on and SO MANY details almost to the point that I felt some of it could have been taken out and it still would have been a good read. However I did read it on a couple of planes in almost 7 straight hours so if I’d spaced it out a little maybe it wouldn’t have felt so intense. I ...
  • Karen
    What an incredible book. Atmospheric, moving, clever and original, Scrublands has it all. This is not a who dunnit but a why dunnit and brilliantly shows how generational crimes, small town mistakes, human fallibility and present day realities collide until the inevitable explosion captures both the guilty and the innocent in its aftermath. With the deft hand of an investigative journalist and brilliance of an experienced social observer, Hammer ...
  • Lesley Moseley
    3 3/4 stars rounded up for the breathless pace, right to the last para! Read so many of these drought/murder OZ "why dunnits", and this would have to be on of the best. Real characters, believable plot-lines and redemption for several.. I did enjoy it, even tho it's not my preferred reading genre.
  • Ellen
    A breathless plot racing through an atmospheric regional town makes for one of this year's most addictive adventures into the world of crime fiction. Hammer will keep you hooked.
  • Lisa Bacon-hall
    I loved this novel. A solid story and interesting characters. Really gave a great sense of the drought in NSW. Strong story line and it maintained my interest and was a book I kept wanting to read!
  • Tracy Mackay
    Thanks heaps to Allen and Unwin for my copy .What a brilliant read this book was! I love a good thriller and this is definitely one. I have to agree with one of the other reviewers and say it's multifaceted, there are just so many stories, twists and turns within the main story of the massacre by the priest. I can usually guess the who, why or how when I read a thriller or have a stab at it, but not with this book. I could not predict any of the ...
  • Deb Bodinnar
    This story needs, yes, needs to be made into a TV Mini Series or a movie. One of the best books I've read in awhile. Knowing the country side where this tale is set made, the author described the landscape and atmosphere spot on. I thought that the characters, their backgrounds and relationships with each other have been masterfully written. I highly recommend this novel.
  • Elaine Tomasso
    I would like to thank Netgalley and Headline for an advance copy of Scrublands, a stand alone novel set in the bush town of Riversend, featuring journalist Martin Scarsden.Martin Scarsden travels to Riversend to write a feature on how the town is coping a year after the local priest shot 5 residents before committing suicide by cop. Despite his brief Martin soon finds himself becoming part of the story himself as he investigates the motive behind...
  • Win
    This book gets 4 1/2 stars from me. A riveting page turner from start to finish.Memorable characters & very atmospheric Australian bush setting. Loses half a star from me as it’s very wordy & possibly a few repetitious parts could have been pared down.
  • Toni
    Great murder mystery set in a tiny Australian town in the middle of the drought stricken outback.
  • David Linwood
    A rich and atmospheric novel that subverts many of the genres cliches. I have received an early copy of this one but when it hits shelves I'm sure it will be very popular.