Scrublands by Chris Hammer #bookreview

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Scrublands by Chris Hammer, with thanks to Caitlin Raynor at Headline who sent me a copy to review.


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.


Scrublands is a really immersive read; set a year after a horrific crime took place in Riversend, Australia, when a young priest shot and killed five individuals. For the first anniversary, journalist Martin Scarsden heads there to report on how the locals are coping one year on from the tragedy. But he has no idea how big of an impact this job will have on the rest of his career and how close to danger he’ll come.

I really enjoyed this one. Chris Hammer captures the dusty terrain of the Australian outback and just how isolated the town of Riversend is, compared to the big cities of Sydney and Melbourne which attract most tourists. This is a community which very much looks after its own, and they don’t take too kindly to outsiders which Martin is quick to become aware of, although he is quick to form a relationship with the owner of the local bookshop, Mandalay.

The story is hugely entertaining. As Martin attempts to get the bottom of just why the police decided to kill so many people, the bodies of two German backpackers are found nearby; these two tourists went missing at around the same time the incident he is reporting on took place. Now the police are desperate to find out what happened to them and who was responsible for their murders.

I really wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on in this town. The novel itself is quite long, but Chris’s writing made the book feel like a very quick read. I was quickly pulled into the story and Chris’s description of the town really made me feel as though I was there.

Martin was a really engaging character, and I kept thinking about the danger that seemed to be around him all the time while he was in Riversend researching the crime that took place. There were so many unanswered questions about the priest and conflicting reports about him from the locals. This made this book so interesting; it seemed that right from the start there was something much bigger to this case than what first meets the eye.

Scrublands has put Chris Hammer’s name firmly on my radar, and I’ll definitely be looking out for more books by him in the future. This is a crime novel with real depth which races along at a quick pace and plants you firmly within the setting. Overall, a terrific read.

Publisher: Wildfire

Publication date: 8th January 2019

Print length: 496 pages

If you would like to purchase Scrublands you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below. 

Amazon UK  Waterstones

Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic #bookreview

Resurrection Bay (Pushkin Vertigo Book 21) by [Viskic, Emma]



His childhood friend has been brutally murdered at his home in Melbourne. Tortured by guilt, Caleb vows to track down the killer. But he’s profoundly deaf; missed words and misread lips can lead to confusion, and trouble.


Fortunately, Caleb knows how to read people; a sideways glance, an unconvincing smile, speak volumes. When his friend Frankie, a former cop, offers to help, they soon discover the killer is on their tail.


Sensing that his ex-wife may also be in danger, Caleb insists they return to their hometown of Resurrection Bay. But here he learns that everyone – including his murdered friend – is hiding something. And the deeper he digs, the darker the secrets…


Emma Viskic has created a fantastic protagonist in her debut novel Resurrection Bay who was instantly likeable from the first page. There is action from the get-go in this book, and the pace never let up. Brilliant addictive writing and hugely engaging dialogue; bring on the next book in the series, I say.

Resurrection Bay opens up with the murder of Caleb Zelic’s friend, and the finger of suspicion quickly falls on him. Caleb is deaf, so he sees the world differently from his friends, family and the people who he works with and this also puts him in a very vulnerable position, especially when he himself is targeted. But just what has Caleb’s friend got himself involved in that has ended up with him being killed? And now Caleb realises that he may soon be being hunted by his friend’s ruthless killers.

The mystery element in this book was particularly gripping. I wanted to know what it was that Caleb’s friend had done to wind them up in the situation they were currently in, and who the people were who were trying to silence them. It was a plot that I immediately became swept up in, and I turned those pages furiously to find out what the answers were. I was really interested in the idea that Emma chose a deaf character for her protagonist, and I thought that this was written really well. It did make me feel more anxious for Caleb as I was reading as he tried to pursue his own investigations while trying to avoid some very shady characters. But Emma also shows the depths of her research into this by including sign language and the skill of lip reading which Caleb uses all the time when conversing with his relatives and colleagues. This was also done very well.

I also really liked Kat, Caleb’s business partner, who I found intriguing. I really liked their relationship, and I loved the wit in their dialogue. They were a fantastic team together.

Resurrection Bay definitely has an unpredictable plot that surprised me along the way. This is a stunning, fast paced read that I really enjoyed. Thank you to Tabitha Pelly at Pushkin Press for sending me a copy of the book to review.

Publisher: Pushkin Press

Publication date: 24th August 2017

Print length: 289 pages