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.

BLURB

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 THOUGHTS

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

The Hidden Wife by Amanda Reynolds #bookreview @amandareynoldsj @Wildfirebks

BLURB

WHAT HAPPENED TO JULIA BLAKE?

She was young and beautiful, married to a famous author. They were celebrating their anniversary at their stunning country estate. So why did Julia Blake walk out of her perfect life, apparently leaving no trace?

Seren, a junior reporter for the local paper, can’t believe her luck when she lands an exclusive with Julia’s husband, Max. But as Seren spends more time at the couple’s remote mansion, probing ever deeper into the case, dark questions await.

What was Julia really like, behind closed doors? Was her marriage to this brooding, secretive man as perfect as it seemed? And did she really mean to disappear that night – or was she murdered?

MY THOUGHTS

The Hidden Wife is another twisty and a cleverly crafted psychological thriller from Amanda Reynolds, who is going from strength to strength. I really enjoyed her latest book which delves into the disappearance of the wife of a celebrity author, Max Blake, who still falls under the suspicion of the press and the police, even though no hard evidence has been found against him. Seren, a journalist with the local Herald, has the opportunity to interview him, and this is a big deal for the local paper which Seren starts to feel the pressure of. Can she get to the bottom of what happened to his wife, Julia?

All the time while I was reading this, I had this uncomfortable feeling that something was going to happen to Seren as she got closer and closer to Max as she peered into his life. Max was a character who I could never quite make my mind up about, and I thought that Amanda played this quite well. I could never be quite sure what had happened to his wife Julia and if he was involved in the disappearance or not. I did try and work it out along the way, but I didn’t have much success until quite close to the end when the events surrounding Julia’s disappearance started to become clearer.

This was cleverly plotted, and I liked how all the strands pulled together as the novel drew towards its conclusion. There was a bombshell moment towards the end which just left me desperate to find out what was really going on; I just had to ignore everything else and read to the last page right away, and it made for a very exciting finale as the final secrets were revealed. It did make me realise where Amanda was heading with this all along, and it was done very well.

As well as wanting to get to the bottom of what had happened to Julia and her relationship with Max, I thought that Seren also had a very interesting backstory as well. I’m still thinking about what is happening in her life after finishing the book as there is part of her story which I’m sure will leave readers with questions. It’s not directly linked to the main plot, but there is definitely enough intrigue here for me to want to find out more about her. I’m wondering if Amanda has any plans to return to Seren at some point in the future.

This is another excellent read from Amanda that I definitely recommend. It will keep you guessing right the way through. Hugely enjoyable.

Publisher: Wildfire

Publication date: 31st March 2019

Print length: 400 pages

If you would like to purchase The Hidden Wife, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below. 

Amazon UK  Kobo

No Time To Cry by James Oswald blog tour @SirBenfro @Wildfirebks

No Time To Cry Cover (1)

Source: Review Copy

BLURB

Undercover ops are always dangerous, but DC Constance Fairchild never expected things to go this wrong.

Returning to their base of operations, an anonymous office in a shabby neighbourhood, she finds the bloodied body of her boss, and friend, DI Pete Copperthwaite. He’s been executed – a single shot to the head.

In the aftermath, it seems someone in the Met is determined to make sure that blame for the wrecked operation falls squarely on Con’s shoulders. She is cut loose and cast out, angry and alone with her grief… right until the moment someone also tries to put a bullet through her head.

There’s no place to hide, and no time to cry.

MY THOUGHTS

James Oswald hits the ground running in his latest novel No Time To Cry the first book in his new series set in London and the pace never lets up. I couldn’t put this book down. Constance Fairchild is a young Detective Constable, just starting out in her career in the metropolitan police. She comes from a privileged background, but she is determined to earn her right to be a detective through hard work. She has very few friends in the police force, say for one, Detective Inspector Pete Copperthwaite. But on the first page of the book, Constance finds her boss and friend, dead, and she quickly becomes a person of interest in the minds of her superiors. With her main supporter no longer around, Constance is on her own. The rest of her career in the police force hangs in the balance, and she knows she may soon be framed for Pete’s murder as her colleagues rush to find a scapegoat.

James Oswald’s Detective Inspector Tony McLean series is one of my favourites, so I was more than intrigued to learn that he was publishing a new crime series, this time, however, set in London. James does, however, visit Scotland again in this book with his new protagonist, Connie. And a familiar face from the McLean series turns up as well which was a nice surprise.

Isolating Connie from the rest of her team was a really interesting way to start this series. Right from the start, I was backing her, you really do get the sense that she is fighting on her own and this sets in a feeling of trepidation right from the beginning. No Time To Cry has a complex plot, and it was interesting to see how James weaved it together. Shortly after Connie’s suspension, she is asked to track down missing student, Isobel, the sister of her old friend. This takes Connie back to her own past, as Isobel studies at her old school, and as her investigation into Isobel’s disappearance continues she is warned off by some dangerous individuals. But this only makes Connie more determined to find out what’s happened to her. What Connie eventually finds out is very disturbing, and it blows everything wide open and puts her own life in danger.

James Oswald is a fantastic writer. He puts Connie in a dangerous situation, and it is really interesting how everything all unfolds. And the way in which the plot is pulled together is done very well. It will be interesting to see how this series will progress further, especially after the ending of this book. I think this new series will be just as successful as the Tony McLean books. Connie is a fantastic character, and I’m sure she will intrigue plenty of new readers.

If you’re a long time fan of James Oswald, then you are in for a treat with this book, but if you haven’t come across James’ work before, then this is the perfect time to discover a new writer who writes excellent police procedurals and creates fascinating characters. No Time to Cry is a brilliant piece of crime fiction that will keep you gripped. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour and to the publishers for sending me a copy of the book to review.

Publisher: Wildfire

Publication date: 26th July 2018 (kindle) 1st November 2018 (paperback)

Print length: 336 pages

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR 

No Time To Cry Blog Tour Poster