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Scrublands

The heat rises off the buildings, the road, and the parched, dry country. The sun is hot, unforgiving in its constant ferocity; from the first sentence in this enthralling story you are there, the smell, the very essence of sunburnt country envelops you, places you firmly where the endless summer sets the scene for something so horrific the small, isolated town of Riversend will carry the scars forever within its DNA.

Marten Scarsden, journalist and a troubled man is sent to cover the story almost a year on from the tragedy to see how the town is coping in the aftermath and also to try and save his failing a career.  What was it that caused a much loved and respected young Priest, Byron Swift to finish greeting his parishioners before the eleven o’clock service, change into his robes and crucifix, calmly pick up his high powered rifle and set about killing seven of his parishioners before being shot dead by the local police constable.

When Scarsden reaches the town the temperature is in the 40’s and still rising, the town appears to be deserted of all life, dead and dry like the country he has travelled through. A lone soldier stands on his monument, witness to the town’s events, unremarkable and unremarked. He finds a small bookshop that offers coffee where he meets Mandalay Blonde, owner of the bookshop. A beautiful woman also damaged and in love with Byron Swift, the mother of his child, Liam, now only a few months old.

As the days go by Martin discovers there are several different opinions of why, with very few people supporting the theory it was to cover up sexual abuse through the church. Before long the tragedy of a damaged and poisoned town begins to become exposed. Martin becomes more embroiled with Mandy and the townspeople, the hermit Codger, Snouch, a man with a mysterious past, young policeman Robbie Haus-Jones and Fran Landers, widow of Craig Landers, killed in the church shooting. He files a story based on what he considers are the facts only to discover he was way off in his supposition, which inadvertently sets off a chain reaction that could prove to be deadly.

The story moves between the past and the present seamlessly divulging the many dark secrets held within families and small towns that eventually leads to one of the biggest news stories in Australia, causing the Press to descend on the small town of Riversend and the neighbouring town of Bellington. How far and for how long is Martin prepared to keep digging to discover the truth of what really did happen on that fateful day when seven men lost their lives.

Scarsden somehow finds himself as the story and as he struggles with his demons, he also begins to find that there may be a small chink of salvation to be found in the tragedy that is Riversend

Carefully constructed, Hammer has drawn on his previous experience as a journalist and author to paint the authenticity of the characters, the setting and the storyline, to deliver a thriller of a tale that will keep you engrossed and guessing until the last word has been read.

AuthorChris Hammer
PublisherAllen and Unwin
ISBN9781760632984
Websitehttps://www.allenandunwin.com
DistributorAllen and Unwin
ReleasedAugust 2018