Scrublands

Scrublands

Chris Hammer / Sep 22, 2019

Scrublands 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 hi

  • Title: Scrublands
  • Author: Chris Hammer
  • ISBN: 1760632988
  • Page: 227
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 ab 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, which becomes the biggest story in Australia The media descends on Riversend and Martin is now the one 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 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.A compulsive thriller that will haunt you long after you have turned the final page Get A Copy Kindle Store KoboOnline StoresAudibleBarnes NobleWalmart eBooksApple BooksGoogle PlayAbebooksBook DepositoryIndigoAlibrisBetter World BooksIndieBoundLibraries Or buy for Paperback, 496 pages Published July 25th 2018 by Allen Unwin More Details ISBN 1760632988 ISBN13 9781760632984 Edition Language English Other Editions 12 All Editions Add a New Edition Combine Less Detail edit details Friend Reviews To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up Reader QA To ask other readers questions about Scrublands, please sign up

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    Lists with This Book Best Atmospheric Setting 60 books 16 voters Psychological Suspense for 2019 January June 91 books 56 voters More lists with this book Community Reviews Showing 1 30 Rating details Sort Default Filter Nov 23, 2018 Paromjit rated it it was amazing Shelves crime fiction, mystery, netgalley, thriller Chris Hammer joins the rising number of illustrious writers in the Aussie Noir genre, and his debut novel is a humdinger of a riveting and atmospheric crime read It is set in the remote and isolated dying town of Riverend, surrounded by mulga scrubland It has acquired a notorious reputation as the place where a charismatic and popular young priest, Byron Swift, inexplicably shot and killed 5 people at St James Church, only to be shot dead himself by Constable Robbie Haus Jones Riverend has be Chris Hammer joins the rising number of illustrious writers in the Aussie Noir genre, and his debut novel is a humdinger of a riveting and atmospheric crime read It is set in the remote and isolated dying town of Riverend, surrounded by mulga scrubland It has acquired a notorious reputation as the place where a charismatic and popular young priest, Byron Swift, inexplicably shot and killed 5 people at St James Church, only to be shot dead himself by Constable Robbie Haus Jones Riverend has been in the grip of a long term scorching and never ending unbearable heat with no end in sight, threatening peoples livelihoods and sanity Amidst the background of the parched and devastated landscape, lurk desperate dangers, such as regular apocalyptic bush fires wiping out homes, livestock, and threatening human lives Suffering from PTSD after a harrowing assignment in Gaza where he became the story, middle aged journalist, Martin Scarsden has been sent to write a human interest feature on Riversend to document how the town has fared a year after the events at St James Church.It is meant to be a straight forward report but it turns out to be anything but For a start, Martin is startled by the number of townsfolk that hold the priest in such high regard, including those who lost family members in the shooting spree He meets young twentysomething single mother, Mandalay Mandy Blonde, with her toddler son, Liam, running a bookshop cafe, who hints that there is to Swift than the paedophile he has been painted as, and encourages Swift to look deeper into the priest and what lies behind what happened at the church Finding many locals hostile to his presence initially, Martin begins to embed himself in the community after helping fight a nightmare of a bushfire and saving a young man s life However, events overtake Martin and Riversend, when bodies are unearthed that result in the place once again becoming the eye of a media storm with the descent of a huge number of journalists looking for the latest exclusive Martin finds himself tested to his limits as he finds himself becoming self aware and questioning the nature of his profession and career, and not much liking the insights he gains into himself Hammer gives us complex storytelling with multiple threads that include the drugs trade, biker gangs, the murders of German backpackers, rape, abuse, fraud, the intelligence services, the shootings, atonement and the repercussions of tragedies that interconnect in unexpected ways Riversend is a seething hotbed of horror, trauma, secrets, deception and lies, but it is also a place that is beginning to steal Martin s heart as he contemplates the possibility that for the first time in his life he is in love, but numerous obstacles litter his path, not least his professional career Hammer s characterisation is stellar with a host of characters that make an impact, not only Martin, Mandy, Fran, Byron, and others, but additionally gems that made an impression on me such as the old man, Codger, living in the remote scrublands by himself The sweltering heat, burning into the town and land, is an overriding character in its own right, destructive and ever present, inescapable, ravenous in its appetite for devouring life Hammer brilliantly depicts and captures the heat and its impact, a recent feature of real life contemporary Australia This is a fantastic first novel that had me enthralled and looking forward to what Hammer writes next Highly recommended Many thanks to Headline for an ARC flag 103 likesLike see review View all 19 comments Aug 19, 2018 Brenda rated it really liked it Shelves 2018 release, 5000 books, arc, won, thriller, suspense, sent by publisher, reviewing by request, uncorrected proof, aussie authors 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 was the town dying But as Martin tried to interview the 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 was the town dying But as Martin tried to interview the few people who would talk to him, he heard things that didn t gel with what he thought he knew Was there a different story to be told He decided to find out, even if it amounted to nothing But he realized, with gut clenching surety, that there was darkness, secrets and danger in the small town and its surrounding scrublands and there were people who would stop at nothing to keep those secrets hidden Scrublands is an intense and fast paced thriller by Aussie author Chris Hammer, and my first read by him I found it to be a little drawn out and convoluted, repetitive in places but tense and chilling There were plenty of twists to the story as well, but I was disappointed in the amount of unnecessary obscene language In my opinion an author isn t a good writer if he needs to continually use profanities to get his point across Recommended for fans of the genre.With thanks to Allen Unwin for my uncorrected proof ARC to which I have given an honest review flag 62 likesLike see review View all 18 comments Nov 26, 2018 Tammy rated it liked it A lot goes on in this novel and I do mean a lot A seasoned but burned out journalist descends upon a dying town in the Australian outback to cover the aftermath of a mass shooting Over the course of two weeks he encounters suicides, romance, murders, a car accident, fires and on and on This novel is overcrowded with occurrences The romance is a bit creepy and should have been cut but I did like the portrayal of some very eccentric characters I do think this is a solid debut and look forward A lot goes on in this novel and I do mean a lot A seasoned but burned out journalist descends upon a dying town in the Australian outback to cover the aftermath of a mass shooting Over the course of two weeks he encounters suicides, romance, murders, a car accident, fires and on and on This novel is overcrowded with occurrences The romance is a bit creepy and should have been cut but I did like the portrayal of some very eccentric characters I do think this is a solid debut and look forward to what this author writes next flag 64 likesLike see review View all 19 comments Jan 26, 2019 Zoeytron rated it really liked it review of another edition Shelves public library Lies and calumnies, a loss of perspective, the past bearing down One year ago, a priest laid waste to five men, coolly mowing them down from the front steps of the church The priest is then shot and killed by the town constable Who was this priest A man of God, an impostor with an agenda, or something else entirely Journalist Martin Scarsden is sent to Riversend to do a followup article on how the town is faring after the horrific affair He finds the small town to be withering, dying Lies and calumnies, a loss of perspective, the past bearing down One year ago, a priest laid waste to five men, coolly mowing them down from the front steps of the church The priest is then shot and killed by the town constable Who was this priest A man of God, an impostor with an agenda, or something else entirely Journalist Martin Scarsden is sent to Riversend to do a followup article on how the town is faring after the horrific affair He finds the small town to be withering, dying on the vine Desiccated by drought, heat that is unrelenting, a torpor that is rendered palpable Questions remain unanswered, two bodies surface, and the journo starts digging to fill in the blanks For those of you who have already read this, can you shed any light on this view spoiler Martin Scarsden seems to be overly preoccupied with his hands Mentioned any number of times, referring to them as purposeless, soft, limp, etc what s up with that If it is meant to be an allegory, I was unable to grasp hold of it Help hide spoiler A crackerjack fiction debut by journalist Chris Hammer Australian noir, interesting characters Mayhap a tad too much going on, and I would have appreciated a darker ending, but that is simply a personal preference Good stuff here, and I look forward to his next novel with great anticipation flag 49 likesLike see review View all 19 comments debra You would think OverDrive would pressure current loanee to return book I mean we have things to discuss Sheesh Jan 31, 2019 11 02AM Zoeytron debra wrote You would think OverDrive would pressure current loanee to return book I mean we have things to discuss Sheesh I know Boy how debra wrote You would think OverDrive would pressure current loanee to return book I mean we have things to discuss Sheesh I know Boy howdy Jan 31, 2019 01 23PM Sep 06, 2018 Carolyn rated it it was amazing Shelves gift from publisher, 2018, australian author, murder mystery, crime, rural 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 recover When Martin arrives in the small rural tow 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 recover When Martin arrives in the small rural town of Riversend near Hay in the NSW Riverina, he finds a dying town on its last legs The extreme heat and drought have been relentless and all is turning to dust The businesses are mostly closed and even the vibrant pub where the journalists stayed a year ago is empty and derelict The only place left to stay is a seedy run down motel and just finding a cup off coffee looks impossible tough until Martin discovers the bookshop where the beautiful single mother Mandalay Blonde sells coffee and muffins.Although it is a year since the Anglican minister Byron Swift shot dead five local men outside his church before being shot dead by the local policeman, no one seems to understand what drove this well liked man to do it As Martin gets to know the locals he discovers a lot going on beneath the surface It seems Byron Swift was than he made out to be and the town is not the peaceful community described at the time of the shooting When a ferocious bushfire sweeps through the scrublands outside of town and the bodies of two German backpackers are found, it s as if a fuse is lit and the pieces start to fall into place Chris Hammer displays all his journalistic skills in relating this story with insights into the politcs and practices of the media His writing is so evocative and atmospheric that I could feel the red dust and heat of the drought sticking to my skin and feel the overwhelming force of the bushfire burning all in its tracks His characters are complex and unique Martin overcoming PTSD, interested in truth than social niceties but perhaps acting as a catalyst for the truth to come out, Mandalay struggling to cope with being back in the town after her mother s death and the two old men living in their very different domains in the scrublands, Codger Harris and Harley Snouch, who both know than they re telling An excellent Australian crime novel, one I expect to see in the lists of Award winners before too long With thanks to Allen and Unwin for a copy of the book to read flag 46 likesLike see review View all 6 comments Aug 08, 2018 Karen rated it it was ok Shelves australian, crime, paperback, review books 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 airport thriller style novel shoe horned into a rural 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 airport thriller style novel shoe horned into a rural setting.A rural setting that has some questionable elements to it I m not at all sure where the idea that a CFA crew would suddenly scoop up a complete outsider, chuck him in some borrowed gear and let him head into a firestorm to help the local cop with a rescue comes from I know the shitstorm that would arise after it though I m also not that sure where the idea that twelve months after the local priest shot dead five men it would take an incoming journalist to ask what was that all about I m also not convinced that police would be blabbing their heads off about the whys and wherefores of an investigation and what actually happened on the day to aforementioned journalist when there was an ongoing investigation, but there you go And I m absolutely 100% over the idea that every eligible women in a small town would sleep with anybody and anything that wanders by because of well boredom or lack of self respect caused by other blokes, or whatever the hell was being suggested here Maybe I m just picky but something about SCRUBLANDS got up my nose The procedural aspects were off, the rural setting seems to consist of a bloke wandering around bitching about how hot it was in the sun no shit sherlock and the observations of the impact of drought were well odd As for the ending with all it s happy every after, good bloke, oh look it s raining So this is a novel, set in the Riverina, where in 45 minutes you go from paradise on the banks of running river in a drought, to hell in the form of a mostly abandoned small town in which an unthinkable multiple murder took place Add to the mix a journalist with a hefty dose of PTSD, a beautiful young woman who is seemingly stuck in the dying town running a second hand bookshop and cafe, the widow of one of the murdered men running the local store, a derro who lives on one of the major farms with water available from a spring what oh for goodness sake, the farm is just out of town, the family are the local family and everyone knows that , and then there s a services club hanging on by it s fingernails and a closed down pub To be clear, the pub was closed down by an incomer, the priest who shot everyone was an incomer, the weird couple living out in the Scrublands surrounding the town are incomers, the bikies who keep roaring through town on their bikes are incomers, and the only person asking the hard questions is an incomer journalist.To be really clear about this I am really pleased that there is such a beast as rural crime doing the rounds in Australia these days, but I think we have to be careful to understand the difference between books about rural issues and books set in rural areas SCRUBLANDS is very much a book set in a rural location, which to be frank, has some criminal activity that could have occurred anywhere For this reader there s no real sense of a rural town, there s no real sense of rural issues, and there s no real sense of the damage, trauma and deprivation of drought Worse still there s a lot of simplistic lip service, some insulting generalisations and a good bloke, happy ever after ending that was stroke inducingly annoying.To be fair, perhaps it works as a bit of a yarn, and if happy ever after is what you re looking for, it ll work and be a very satisfying read If you re looking for insight in what it s truly like in another part of the world which lets face it rural Australia is for most Australian s let alone those from other locales , then this isn t that booktps austcrimefiction revi flag 41 likesLike see review View all 23 comments Coral Ward Leslie wrote I need someone on this thread to just message me and tell me what happened The writing is painful and I die a little each chapter Leslie wrote I need someone on this thread to just message me and tell me what happened The writing is painful and I die a little each chapter But I keep reading because I want to know what happened I m You have to keep reading as he keeps chucking and ridiculous stuff in And the ending well as silly as the rest of it Now that you know the calibre of this book at least you won t be disappointed Jan 19, 2019 03 08PM Bonnie The ending is shite You get a Disney ending and it isn t worth the pain Don t suffer, live Jan 27, 2019 11 19PM Jul 24, 2018 Marianne rated it it was amazing 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 Australia, at barbecues and bars, at cafes and canteens, at h 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 Australia, at barbecues and bars, at cafes and canteens, at hairdressers and in taxis, everyone and their dog will be advancing their own half baked theories of what happened and who was responsible Talkback radio will be having a field day, the internet will be spawning an equal measure of sick jokes and conspiracy theories Scrublands is the first novel by Australian journalist and award winning author, Chris Hammer It s January so it s hot in the NSW Riverina Ex foreign correspondent, Martin Scarsden has been sent to Riversend to do a story on how the town is coping in the aftermath of a shooting massacre It will soon be a year since the local pastor, Byron Swift, shot down five members of the community Allegations of paedophilia had been lodged against him but, as he was shot dead by the town s constable, these were never explored further Nor was Swift s motive ever discovered.Martin wanders through what looks like a dying town, a town in the choke hold of a crippling drought, trying to get a feel for his story He looks away to the horizon, shimmering and ill defined under the harsh sunlight, the sun that should lift all shadows but instead blurs the edges of the world, renders the horizon debatable, so that it s impossible to tell land from sky A year ago, Martin s colleague did little to endear himself to the townsfolk, so while most are not openly hostile, neither is he welcomed with open arms Martin is grateful that the young constable who brought Swift down gives him such a candid interview, but he finds himself distracted from his original brief, and not only by the beautiful bookstore owner he can t help speculating on just what led to the shootings, and whatever anyone tells him only increases his confusion And who can he really trust to be completely honest, anyway Everyone seems to have their own agenda Then two partially decomposed bodies are found in a dam in the scrublands, and things get really interesting Hammer easily conveys the dusty country town with its boarded up shopfronts, its attendant desperation but also its quirky locals He manages to include in his tale suicides, bushfires, a war criminal, some dangerous bikies, a kidnapping, a fatal car accident, a confession or two , a 15,000 bail bond, quite a lot of poor journalism, a locked room, an ASIO operative and a conman His protagonist is no saint he s impulsive, not as thorough as he should be, and perhaps somewhat tactless, but ultimately, his heart seems to be in the right place Hammer expertly builds his story each chapter adds another wrinkle to what at first looks to be a fairly simple tragedy, turning it into an ever intriguing mystery He gives the reader a few red herrings, and so many twists that neck injuries may result Some excellent if rather black comic relief is provided by Martin s initial encounter with Codger Harris, and later with the drunken visiting magistrate, and the map of Riversend is both necessary and welcome Clever and topical, this is an excellent work of Australian crime fiction.This unbiased review from an uncorrected proof copy provided by AllenUnwin flag 31 likesLike see review View all 4 comments Nov 25, 2018 Bianca rated it liked it Shelves 2018, aussie author, aussie author challenge 2018, aussie setting, contemporary, male author, supense thriller mystery 3.5 Scrublands has been heavily marketed in Australia and it was compared to Jane Harper s The Dry due to being set in the Australian outback Forty year old journalist, Martin Scarsden, is sent to Riversend to write about how the community is coping a year after a much loved priest killed five men The long lasting drought has parched everything, including people s spirits Slowly, Martin gets to know the policeman who shot dead the priest and a few other town people, including a beautiful you 3.5 Scrublands has been heavily marketed in Australia and it was compared to Jane Harper s The Dry due to being set in the Australian outback Forty year old journalist, Martin Scarsden, is sent to Riversend to write about how the community is coping a year after a much loved priest killed five men The long lasting drought has parched everything, including people s spirits Slowly, Martin gets to know the policeman who shot dead the priest and a few other town people, including a beautiful young woman who owns a bookshop cafe As you d expect, as otherwise there would be no point to the novel, Martin discovers all sort of things, including that nothing is as it seems His article and discoveries make him first famous then infamous, so life gets complicated Martin tries his best to untangle the many knots This novel has lots of elements in it, arguably too many there s a former special forces man, a priest who may or may not be a paedophile, dead backpackers, rape, affairs, drugs, bike gangs, hidden identities I forgot to mention, Martin has PTSD following some unfortunate events from when he was a journalist in Gazza.Despite the many cliches, despite being too long and having too much crammed in, this was an interesting novel The romantic affair wasn t necessary, truth be told, it read too much like an older man s wet dream Sure, they re allowed to have them, I m allowed to roll my eyes.When I began listening to this novel I thought to myself let me guess, there ll be rain at the end Spoiler alert, the novel ends with one of the biggest cliches rain as a cleansing new beginning metaphor In conclusion, Scrublands was enjoyable enough for me to spend over 13 hrs in its company I would have enjoyed it had it been given a good pruning.This novel goes towards my Aussie Author Challenge on www bookloverbookreviews flag 30 likesLike see review View all 24 comments Zoeytron Just finished this one Loved your review, Bianca Jan 27, 2019 04 38AM Bianca Zoeytron wrote Just finished this one Loved your review, Bianca Thanks Jan 27, 2019 06 36AM Oct 04, 2018 Amanda Mrs Bs Book Reviews rated it it was amazing Shelves 2018 books, first reads, review book penned by journalist Chris Hammer, proved to be another strong contender for my favourite crime thriller novel of the year It is a testament to the array of rich Australian bush based crime novels that are cropping up If you are a fan of Jane Harper, this one will fill the spot and Words cannot adequately express just how magnificent this crime novel proved to be Scrublands is refined, strikingly realistic and completely compulsive.River penned by journalist Chris Hammer, proved to be another strong contender for my favourite crime thriller novel of the year It is a testament to the array of rich Australian bush based crime novels that are cropping up If you are a fan of Jane Harper, this one will fill the spot and Words cannot adequately express just how magnificent this crime novel proved to be Scrublands is refined, strikingly realistic and completely compulsive.Riversend is the small town locale where all the action plays out in this addictive novel We quickly learn that the town of Riversend has been strangled by the onset and prolonged presence of drought And like a stab in the heart, the town lost five residents in an awful shooting, involving the enigmatic town priest The case and the mystery surrounding why this giving priest would open fire on five townspeople is completely baffling The priest also took his own life, soon after the shooting, tearing apart the tiny town of Riversend in an instant Now one year later, the wound still cuts deep and it is up to investigative journalist Martin Scarsden to compose a piece on the Riversend tragedy What Martin encounters when he begins to collect the evidence to compile his story is conflicting to say the least As soon as Martin makes a dent in his story, another tragedy befalls the town of Riversend, followed by a shocking discovery As Martin throws himself further into the case and attempts to join the dots with new developments, he comes under intense scrutiny With the media and dangerous forces breathing down his neck, Martin s story has far reaching implications.This one sure bowled me over right from the hooking premise and opening sequence Scrublands will floor you, so be prepared to be dazzled by Chris Hammer early in the novel and through the whole book I won t shy away from admitting that I avoided reading this book The density and size of the book first delivered a sense of trepidation, but I m glad I saved Scrublands for an extended break away, where I had absolutely no distractions Scrublands is the perfect getaway read I submerged myself in this addictive novel over the course of two sittings and I couldn t tear myself away from this fine fiction debut.Working as a journalist for over three decades has put Chris Hammer in good standing for the release of his fiction debut Much of Hammer s research on his prize winning non fiction book, was centred on the impact of drought on small town rural communities and it shows Although Scrublands is work of fiction, there is so much truth to Hammer s writing and his depiction of the events that take place in Riversend This is a fastidious novel that works to build a complete picture of what is happening across many country towns, across all states and territories in Australia In fact, Riversend is simply a euphemism for so many rural locales in Australia that are grappling with the impact of drought, a decline in services and a rise in crime As a result, Scrublands comes across as an authentic tale, tapping into issues that strike at the heart of our rural townships.The central mystery, revealed in the opening pages of Scrublands, is incredibly vivid, raw and compelling It sets the mood and the atmosphere for the rest of the story It also pulled me into the novel and I have to say this grip did not relinquish until the final page Hammer is a great plotter and he has mastered the art of the slow reveal What I loved about Scrublands was not only the puzzling nature of the initial central mystery, but the offshoot effect In Scrublands we are faced with potentially than one crime source It was much than I ever bargained for Hammer has clearly drawn from his own experiences as a journalist and slotted in fragments of himself in the central protagonist, Martin Scarsden I liked Martin s dogged nature from the get go, the relationships he quickly carves in Riversend and the connections he makes to the town itself Through the character of Martin and his career, we receive a scathing insight into the media world, the cut throat operations, underhanded tactics and the sensationalized reporting that often occurs in cases such as the Riversend shooting Along with Martin, Hammer s secondary character set are extremely well crafted I had a such a vivid image of Harley Snouch, Mandalay, Luke and many others, thanks in turn to the descriptive tone of Hammer s pose And it would be unforgivable if I didn t consider Riversend itself as the most influential character of the novel Riversend has such presence that it hard to get this tiny blip on the map out of your mind, long after the final page of Scrublands has been turned.I was than happy to be enslaved by Scrublands, it is a novel that is defined by beautiful but complacent writing, striking tones and a first rate crime mystery There is a sense of imminence to Scrublands, particularly in its recognition of drought and the plight of small towns This blockbuster novel has secured screenplay rights and smashed bestseller lists, I can see why, Scrublands is simply remarkable Thanks extended to Allen Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes flag 30 likesLike see review View all 5 comments Sep 25, 2018 Rob rated it it was amazing Shelves aussie authors I was lucky enough to receive this book as a signed copy after entering a giveaway comp How lucky was I to get it.This, by anybodies standards, is a great read Seldom have I read a book that captures the essence of outback Australia so perfectly From the oppressive heat, the parched landscape, the road kills and not to forget the never say die attitude of outback Aussies.Reading Scrublands is like taking a canoe rid down a river You just never know what to expect around the next bend One mi I was lucky enough to receive this book as a signed copy after entering a giveaway comp How lucky was I to get it.This, by anybodies standards, is a great read Seldom have I read a book that captures the essence of outback Australia so perfectly From the oppressive heat, the parched landscape, the road kills and not to forget the never say die attitude of outback Aussies.Reading Scrublands is like taking a canoe rid down a river You just never know what to expect around the next bend One minute it s all piece and tranquillity and the next you re fighting white water rapids As for red herrings, there s enough here to sink a fishing boat But the journey is well worth it.For journalist Martin Scarsden this should be a run of the mill story about the first anniversary of a mass shooting that took place in the small outback town of Riversend But Martin soon find out that there s nothing run of the mill about Riversend Soon enough the story becomes something much darker and a lot convoluted.The killings and the drought have reduced Riversend to a shadow of the community it used to be Martin starts making enquiries about how the town is fairing now one year after the shootings But what Martin finds is a community that seem to be hiding behind a wall lies and half truths Getting at the truth will cause a lot of pain for both Martin and locals alike.Is there any place the world that appreciates the joy of hearing rain falling on a tin roof that Australia I can t recommend Scrubland highly enough 5 5 flag 26 likesLike see review View all 11 comments Jan 21, 2019 Tucker rated it really liked it review of another edition In the past couple years I ve had the opportunity to read some outstanding crime fiction set in Australia New, or new to me, authors Jane Harper, Emma Viskic, and Candice Fox have all produced books with memorable and well developed characters, evocative descriptions of various areas of Australia, very suspenseful story lines, and superior writing And the newest addition to that stellar group is Chris Hammer with his book Scrublands Martin Scarsden is sent to an isolated and drought stricke In the past couple years I ve had the opportunity to read some outstanding crime fiction set in Australia New, or new to me, authors Jane Harper, Emma Viskic, and Candice Fox have all produced books with memorable and well developed characters, evocative descriptions of various areas of Australia, very suspenseful story lines, and superior writing And the newest addition to that stellar group is Chris Hammer with his book Scrublands Martin Scarsden is sent to an isolated and drought stricken community to report on the anniversary of a devastating tragedy a beloved priest murdered five people and then was killed by police Scarsden isn t content to write a simple follow up piece His extensive experience as an investigative reporter won t let him accept the pat explanation for the murders In a complicated and compelling plot, I believed Scarsden unearthed the real story several times, and each time I was wrong.Besides being a great book, I was fascinated by Scarsden s conflicting intentions of remaining an impassive, detached reporter, and his growing feelings of compassion and desire to protect innocent people She saw him as he was, as he d always been the journalist, putting his vocation before all else, a secular priest worshipping at the shrine of truth, careless of who might get hurt in its telling He was involved he had no God given leave pass, no right to stand apart from the story, apart from life He was a participant, like it or not Things no longer happened only to other people some small part of their grief, or their joy, or their hollowness wore off on him, became part of him How had he ever thought otherwise I may be wrong in presuming this, but my impression was that Hammer was conveying some of the conflicting emotions and motivations he experienced as a long time reporter This aspect of the book greatly added to the depth and appreciation I had for it I m highly recommending Scrublands and hope it receives the broad audience it deserves flag 24 likesLike see review View all 4 comments Pat Tucker wrote Thanks Pat What did you think of the other Aussie authors I ve enjoyed them all, and let s not forget that Michael Robotham is techn Tucker wrote Thanks Pat What did you think of the other Aussie authors I ve enjoyed them all, and let s not forget that Michael Robotham is technically at least Australian Jan 26, 2019 08 00PM Tucker You re right And I love his books too Jan 31, 2019 11 06AM Sep 13, 2018 Mandy White rated it it was amazing review of another edition Shelves audible, australian authors 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 Hammera brilliant Aussie crime thriller flag 22 likesLike see review View all 4 comments Dec 03, 2018 Brooke One Womans Brief Book Reviews rated it it was amazing Shelves read reviewed 2018, aussie authors onewomansbbr.wordpress facebook onewomansbbr 4.5 stars Scrublands by Chris Hammer 2018 A young priest murders five people from the church doorstep in an isolated country town run down by drought A year later troubled journalist Martin arrives to write a feature on the tragedy But the stories the locals provide don t add up to the version of events portrayed previously Martin starts following the real story, and then a shocking new development rocks the town and media de onewomansbbr.wordpress facebook onewomansbbr 4.5 stars Scrublands by Chris Hammer 2018 A young priest murders five people from the church doorstep in an isolated country town run down by drought A year later troubled journalist Martin arrives to write a feature on the tragedy But the stories the locals provide don t add up to the version of events portrayed previously Martin starts following the real story, and then a shocking new development rocks the town and media descends Martin is risking everything to discover the truth of what happened and every step leads to a dark and complex tale I d heard this book was impressive and it certainly is I do pause at a book of considerable length almost 500 pages but this is well worth the read It s a clever, complex and many layered story that keeps the reader trying to fit all of the pieces of the puzzle together until the end There is a lot of red herrings re the original mystery of why the priest did what he did, but it does all come together in the end The imagery used is brilliant, with the author smoothly painting the picture of this very small town with many hidden secrets so that readers can easily imagine it I d be happy to recommend this well written Australian thriller flag 21 likesLike see review View all 4 comments Sep 01, 2018 Liz Barnsley rated it it was amazing 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 and involved with the small town, so indeed does the reader The author captures the sense of place wonderfully, the eclectic occupants facing tragedy in their own ways You can feel t 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 and involved with the small town, so indeed does the reader The author captures the sense of place wonderfully, the eclectic occupants facing tragedy in their own ways You can feel the heat and the dark underbelly of a town collapsing, the emotional core of Scrublands is addictively traumaticThere s a strong mystery element with subtle twists that leads you to a stunningly edgy conclusion, the themes at the heart of Scrublands are cleverly thought provoking When I finished it I felt like I had left a little of myself in Riversend, certainly I think this is a novel I will return to.Nuanced and strangely beautiful, Scrublands is a brilliant read and comes very highly recommended from me flag 18 likesLike see review View all 3 comments Sep 03, 2018 J lie rated it it was amazing Shelves wish list s, won from carpe librum, won from tracey allen, for review, own book 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 onIt was almost one year earlier, that the tiny town was shaken to its core one Sunday morning as the local parishi 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 onIt was almost one year earlier, that the tiny town was shaken to its core one Sunday morning as the local parishioners gathered in the grounds outside St.James church to greet their favourite young charismatic priest Byron Swift before the commencement of the Sunday service.In the already searing heat of another hot summers day, the popular priest was being his usual affable self as he greeted and chatted amongst his arriving congregation.As cars began parking in any available shaded spot near the church, Byron Swift made his way into the church to ready himself for the service before the people started to enter.Moments later he exited through the same doors to stand at the top of the church steps where he raised a snipers rifle, aimed it, and began to shoot people down where they stood, or in some cases where they sat in their car.By the time the local young policeman arrived with his own gun drawn, five people had died instantly from gunshot wounds which had been inflicted with uncanny precision.People stood transfixed as their minds tried to make sense of what their eyes were telling them.In this small isolated country town already suffering deeply from the cruel long and short term effects of drought, what fresh hell has descended upon them now The press had a field day at the time, but still to this day, nobody knows why he did it, and Martin Scarsden is at a loss as to what kind of story he can write about a small town full of still grieving people who have had no closure for the senseless loss of their loved ones on that horrible day.They are a small community in the grip of a drought so bad that their mighty river has dried up and been reduced to a cracked up river bed Dams have run out of water and the town seems to be drying up also, as one business after another folds, either because of the drought or because of the deaths.Martin is struggling with his own demons since returning from Afghanistan a year earlier and his boss believes a couple of days away in the country to write up this piece will do him a world of goodMartin is not so sure.Little do either of them know what is about to unfold.If you think that is not enough backstory to hook you in then buckle up, you are in for a treat because it just gets better with every turn of the page and grips you to the very last.Chris Hammer does a great job of keeping the reader captive with sustained suspense interspersed with moments of comic relief and some very inspired turns of phrase.This story has it covered when describing its characters and their individual peccadilloes, warts and all.Some choice of swear words might at times be questionable, but all in in all I found this book to be a convincing and explicit portrait of such a story and I would easily recommend it.I happily give it 5 s and look forward to from this author.With thanks to Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum and the publishers Allen Unwin for my copy to read and review flag 18 likesLike see review View all 6 comments Jul 27, 2018 Allen and Unwin added it Shelves australian, crime, crime mystery thrillers Scrublands is the epic novel about rural life in Australia that we need right now In its concern with crime beyond the suburban fringe, it sits right up there with the late Peter Temple s Broken Shore, Garry Disher s Bitterwash Road and Jane Harper s The Dry, even as it extends their focus and reach Scrublands is a rural crime novel with remarkable breadth and depth that would also make a superb TV series The Sydney Morning Herald This why dunnit not whodunnit , is a remarkable study Scrublands is the epic novel about rural life in Australia that we need right now In its concern with crime beyond the suburban fringe, it sits right up there with the late Peter Temple s Broken Shore, Garry Disher s Bitterwash Road and Jane Harper s The Dry, even as it extends their focus and reach Scrublands is a rural crime novel with remarkable breadth and depth that would also make a superb TV series The Sydney Morning Herald This why dunnit not whodunnit , is a remarkable study of human fallibility, guilt, remorse, hope and redemption The descriptions of landscape are often evocative in the style of Tim Winton, with the parched country town setting reminiscent of Jane Harper s The Dry Hammer is an author to watch It is hard to imagine Scrublands not being loved by all crime and mystery fans Books Publishing A superbly drawn, utterly compelling evocation of a small town riven by a shocking crime Mark Brandi, author of Wimmera A clever, intricate mystery a complex, compelling story deeply rooted in its small town setting Highly recommended Dervla McTiernan, author of The Ruin Scrublands kidnapped me for 48 hours I was hopelessly lost in the scorching Australian landscape, disoriented but completely immersed in the town and people of Riversend, as the heat crackled off the pages I was devastated when it was time to go back to the real world This book is a force of nature A must read for all crime fiction fans Sarah Bailey, author of The Dark Lake Into the Night A brilliant read A thriller that crackles and sweats and a powerful portrait of a small town on the edge Michael Brissenden, author of The List flag 17 likesLike see review View 1 comment Sep 16, 2018 Calzean rated it it was ok Shelves author australia, crime thriller mystery, culture australia Could there be any 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 flag 16 likesLike see review Kathy Lindsay Absolutely YES Sep 25, 2018 06 09AM Leslie A lady named Mandalay Blonde Jan 15, 2019 10 02PM Ivan Smith Absolutely agree It was rubbish 10 hours, 50 min ago Aug 18, 2018 Roy rated it liked it 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 disnt make sense After such a big incident why di 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 disnt make sense After such a big incident why did it rake so long to invetsigate the murders properly Why does there always have to be a romance I also just didnt feel like the main character was an action hero type The ability for the town and police force to allow him to do certain things confused me Otherwise its a solid read, a little too long for me, and I think the length is its weakness If it had taken out 20% of some of the smaller plot lines I think it would have been a concise taut thriller flag 15 likesLike see review Jan 26, 2019 Susan rated it it was amazing review of another edition Shelves vine Journalist Martin Scarsden is forty when he arrives at Riversend, a small, isolated community which suffered a tragedy a year before when their priest, Byron Swift, stepped out of his church and started shooting Now, Martin has been sent to discover how Riversend has coped with events which saw them hit the headlines What he finds is intense heat, shops closing, resentment of his presence and conflicting versions of Swift himself Was he the villain he was painted at the time a man who inter Journalist Martin Scarsden is forty when he arrives at Riversend, a small, isolated community which suffered a tragedy a year before when their priest, Byron Swift, stepped out of his church and started shooting Now, Martin has been sent to discover how Riversend has coped with events which saw them hit the headlines What he finds is intense heat, shops closing, resentment of his presence and conflicting versions of Swift himself Was he the villain he was painted at the time a man who interfered with children or the helpful, kind and respected man that others saw him as After events in the Gaza Strip, which saw Martin Scarsden locked in the boot of a car for several days, and unsure whether he would live or die, he is struggling to get himself together again His boss feels that this will be a good story for him and, before long, Martin agrees with him Rather than looking at how Riversend is coping, though, he finds himself questioning the original events Then a bush fire brings him closer to the community, which begins to open up to him, even as two bodies are found thought to be two German backpackers, who disappeared before the shooting.Who was Byron Swift and what is the truth surrounding the events of the shooting As the heat rises, Martin is intrigued to uncover the secrets of Riversend This is an interesting, atmospheric and well written mystery In the same way that other parts of the world have suddenly had an emergence of great crime writers Nordic and Tartan Noir, for example , Australia now has a number of rising talent authors who are putting Australian crime writing on the map Without doubt, Chris Hammer, a former journalist, is one to watch and I look forward to reading of his work flag 14 likesLike see review Oct 28, 2018 Veronica rated it it was amazing Shelves australian author, 2018, crime Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend, a town traumatised by tragedy, to write a piece on how the residents are coping one year on from a mass shooting However as he talks to and locals the reason for the shooting doesn t seem to fit the perpetrator With his journalistic instincts propelling him on, Martin s focus begins to shift and he becomes further embedded in the lives of the residents But not everyone is happy about him being Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend, a town traumatised by tragedy, to write a piece on how the residents are coping one year on from a mass shooting However as he talks to and locals the reason for the shooting doesn t seem to fit the perpetrator With his journalistic instincts propelling him on, Martin s focus begins to shift and he becomes further embedded in the lives of the residents But not everyone is happy about him being there as slowly one by one the town s secrets are disclosed.What originally looked like an open and shut case turns into a compelling mystery filled with assumptions and lies.Hammer throws his readers straight into the height of an Australian summer with his vivid descriptions of the unrelenting heat, the diminishing rural town and the ever present threat of bushfires.Four different crimes, all taking place in and around the same drought ravaged town, all separate but all inter linked, driven by greed and hate, guilt and hope Scrublands is a taut thriller with well developed characters and multiple plot lines that will keep you turning the pages.The mystery had me completely baffled and my head was whirling as each new revelation was revealed I was totally immersed in the characters and their stories.A must read for fans of Jane Harper With thanks to Allen Unwin for my copy to read and review. flag 13 likesLike see review View 2 comments Jul 18, 2018 Ruth rated it really liked it 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 character really resonated and provided a fascinat 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 character really resonated and provided a fascinating insight into that career flag 13 likesLike see review Aug 18, 2018 Gaby rated it did not like it 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 on my bedside table flag 13 likesLike see review View all 4 comments Sharah McConville I almost bought this book during the week Might wait and just borrow it from the library instead Aug 18, 2018 06 14PM Ivan Smith Thank goodness someone reviews with a sense of literary awareness I was given this book thank God I didn t spend anything and at the time was into Thank goodness someone reviews with a sense of literary awareness I was given this book thank God I didn t spend anything and at the time was into the fourth and final Ferrante novels These are brilliant I too thought I d dip into this novel for a quick change and sincerely wished I hadn t gone there Sadly, Scrublands was the biggest load of rubbish writing since The Bride Stripped Bare was sent to me for review For the life of me I couldn t work out why this book had so many positive reviews but then I saw who the author once worked for and what he did for a living for 30 years The book reads like hack journalism and most of the reviews are from various media connections associated with the author s previous employment My friend just phoned me back as I had sent the book to her and gave no hint re my thoughts about it We have just enjoyed the biggest laugh at the expense of this supposedly stellar new star in Australian crime fiction We both begged to differ We laughed and laughed about this book If Year 9 had so many things going on in a story imagine the mark and the feedback they d receive Was all I thought abiut as I giggled through this book.This was hilarious and my friend is an editor I can t repeat what she said She hooted and found so many things ghastly The Steven Segal blitz opening and the blonde Mandalay , all the contrived names, a masturbating ex bank manager who doesn t desist from his ministrations, before attending to his guest The bank manager is called Codger Harrison or somethingI mean what Really An ex bank manager Talk about contrived characterisations and lack of nuance Please, please do not put this banal effort in the same league as Jane Harper s marvellous The Dry They are planets apart in quality nuance of character, plot and an understanding of country towns Don t get me started in the writing of the author There were so many odd presumptions about how people in rural towns conduct their daily lives, I wasn t sure whether Hammer is this name for real or has he changed it to give himself crime author gravitas has ever actually been to rural towns The whole fabric of the plot, characters, setting which is sort of doesn t make sense re the spring, the river the dry landscape etc That brings me the the lunacy of the so called plot and the li king devices clunky as a bike with one wheel Oh God, the dead policeman in the river, facedown, the bikies, drugs, paedophilia, Afghanistan, blah blahbut by then I had started to gigglethe two women sharing the priest was just a blast On and on it went It s a shocker Poorly written Funny afterwards Regretsyeah I ve had a fewthis book is one of them 10 hours, 14 min ago Aug 20, 2018 Jennifer JC S rated it really liked it Shelves oz authors 2018 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 Riversend He s been sent to write a feature article for t 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 Riversend He s been sent to write a feature article for the anniversary of the tragedy He finds the town mostly deserted businesses have closed, people have left But as he moves around the town and speaks with those who remain, what he hears doesn t fit with the accepted version of events reported What really happened Martin has his own doubts, and some of the locals also question what happened Okay, Mandy Byron Swift shot five people dead You tell me why did he do it I don t know But if you found out, that would be a hell of a story, wouldn t it Martin talks to several people, and just when he thinks he is starting to make some sense of events, Riversend is rocked by another development The bodies of two German backpackers are found and once again, the spotlight is on Riversend Australia s media descends on the town and Martin himself is a focus of their attention Who killed the backpackers Are the murders connected Every time I think we re getting somewhere, it slips through our fingers You get that feeling The Martin digs for the truth, the complex and twisted that truth seems to become There are other elements to the story as well, and there are those who will stop at nothing to try to keep the truth hidden The shooting outside St James is only one of several crimes in and around Riversend.This novel held my attention from beginning to end Just when I thought I had a possible explanation, another twist would emerge There are a few tragedies contained within the pages of this novel Taken in isolation, I found some elements are less believable than others But novels are like life itself the sum of many disparate parts, and the parts of this novel make for a very satisfying albeit haunting whole.Highly recommended.Jennifer Cameron Smith flag 12 likesLike see review Jul 05, 2018 Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum rated it it was amazing 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 one year anniversary of the church shooting But 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 one year anniversary of the church shooting But as soon as he starts talking to a few of the locals, their stories give him cause to doubt the well accepted facts of the case Priest shoots five locals before being shot dead by the local copper.Australian author Chris Hammer draws on his personal knowledge of being a journalist to produce our protagonist Martin Scarsden and he s a compelling character I enjoyed his attempts to get to the bottom of the shooting whilst taking delight in just how quickly he s caught up in the small town goings on I d have preferred fewer references to his hands, but that s just a minor quibble Scrublands has some cracking country characters Harley Snouch, Codger Harris and without a doubt, the best bushfire scene I ve ever read in a novel I thoroughly enjoyed the references to Australian media outlets and the politics that goes on between journalists, reporters and photographers as they compete for an edge on the developing story.Here s my favourite quote from the book that reminds me of the song Flame Trees by Cold Chisel And there is something about old friends, old loves, those who you were young with when you see them after many years, they don t appear as they are now, but as they were You can see past the pudginess and wrinkles, past cloudy eyes and sagging jawlines You can see them as they were when they were young and vital Page 261I thoroughly enjoyed unravelling this whydunnit whodunnit and can unreservedly recommend Scrublands by Chris Hammer to readers everywhere It will appeal to crime and mystery lovers and it wouldn t surprise me if it was nominated for some awards by the end of the year Copy courtesy of Allen Unwin flag 12 likesLike see review Aug 12, 2018 MaryG2E rated it it was amazing Shelves 2019 alphabetical, 2019 ar genre chlg, 2019 aust authors 4.5 s Scrublands is a big book, both literally and figuratively At a tad below 500 pages, it is quite a hefty volume, with a big word count It is also a big book conceptually, a novel that goes way beyond most contemporary crime stories in its scope and narrative structure With its readily accessible prose style, I found it to be an easy book to read and a real page turner However, I found I had to put it down sometimes, to pace myself, as I tried to get my head around the latest twist or tur 4.5 s Scrublands is a big book, both literally and figuratively At a tad below 500 pages, it is quite a hefty volume, with a big word count It is also a big book conceptually, a novel that goes way beyond most contemporary crime stories in its scope and narrative structure With its readily accessible prose style, I found it to be an easy book to read and a real page turner However, I found I had to put it down sometimes, to pace myself, as I tried to get my head around the latest twist or turn in the story.The opening premise is straight forward World weary print journalist Martin Scarsden is assigned by his newspaper editor to visit a small town in the NSW Riverina district to write an article on how the community is coping and recovering one year after a massacre Martin arrives in Riversend to a depressing scene The town is failing, its population dwindling, many businesses shut, its life blood seeping away, not just as fall out from the massacre but also because the region is in the grip of a severe drought.Martin soon realises that, far less than recovery from the tragic events one year earlier, the town has failed to ask the most basic questions about what happened why did much loved priest Rev Byron Swift open fire on his parishioners, killing 5 and wounding the local copper Why, with a high powered rifle in hand, did he allow the constable to shoot him dead with a police issue pistol Why, following Swift s suicide by cop, had the authorities failed to conduct a thorough investigation Hmmm, food for thought, not just for Martin but also for the reader, enlisted by the author Chris Hammer, to start thinking outside the square How could the townsfolk deal with the tragedy properly and gain the healing that comes from reconciliation with the truth if they remain steadfastly ignorant of the realities Scrublands is a bit like an onion You peel away one layer, only to find layers of secrets and lies beneath Thanks to his detached, journalistic mind set, Martin sets about uncovering the truth behind Swift s murder spree in a situation where everyone, it seems, is lying and hell bent on concealing the facts, glossing over the actualities of the crime and its broader context His task seems Sisyphean.The author sets Martin, doughty reporter, on the trail of discovery, a task made hugely difficult because of the Riversend environment In this aspect of the novel, Chris Hammer exposes the searing heat, pervasive dust, and parched atmosphere of many isolated towns in the Australian hinterland with great veracity His previous book, the non fiction The River A Journey through the Murray Darling, details the people and places he encountered on journeys through the Riverina, and it is this grounding of the novel in the facts of that region which intensifies and heightens the reader s understanding of the dynamics of fictitious Riversend It s not just people who have died in Riversend a whole way of life is disappearing thanks to drought, isolation, financial stress and, ultimately, globalism Any reader who has ventured beyond the Great Divide, travelled the vast inland plains of Australia will have seen the decay which infects so many small communities, and can identify that malaise in Riversend For an alternative view, a snapshot of towns which are managing to adapt and thrive, readers should watch Back Roads ABC TV series, hosted by Heather Ewart It s not all doom and gloom out there beyond the black stump The role of reporter as principal investigator is an interesting one I think a lot of crime fiction depicts reporters as peripheral, either helping or hindering the detective In this book it is the police who are the minor players When we meet Martin Scarsden he is at a crossroads in his life He s been a journalist for 20 years, and has covered major events both at home and overseas At this point in time he is still suffering PTSD from a terrifying ordeal in Afghanistan the year before He s a troubled man, who retains a tenacious grip on his perceived role in life to report events accurately, without bias and without becoming involved His detachment has been his life saver so far But when he digs into the grubby underbelly of Riversend, his reserve is eroded, as is his self image Martin is becoming engaged with the story, becoming part of it, rather than remaining outside of it He is caught in a dilemma his long held, well honed instincts are to report the story, tell the world, because the public has the right to know, but on the other hand he has an emotional investment in some of the people in Riversend, whom he is reluctant to hurt I think this is a really clever device on the author s part, as it creates the opportunity to really reflect on the role of journalists and the power of the media in our society Moreover it challenges Martin to consider who he really is, what drives him, what is failing now inside him In some ways Martin is an analogy for Riversend itself, dried up, burnt out, lonely, loveless, no bright future to look forward to Again I had this strong sense of veracity, as Chris Hammer has lived that life, being a journalist and foreign correspondent for many years I have no doubt much of the dynamics of Martin s experiences at Riversend are based on Hammer s own.There is no doubt that Scrublands is a big read, not one for the faint hearted The story is long and complicated, with many twists and turns which challenge the reader s assumptions This can be rather unsettling for some readers, and so this book won t be liked universally For me it was a highly entertaining rollercoaster ride, in which the author played with my thoughts and expectations It gave me many moments for contemplation about issues like the role of the media in current affairs, the secrets that people conceal and the lies they tell, leading to an examination of what is the truth, and the relevance of tiny communities in an era of global politics, global finance and trade.I would have loved to give this book 5 enthusiastic stars, but there were some minor niggles which have knocked my rating back to 4.5 First concern is that the depiction of women in this book is not particularly strong The only character fleshed out in detail is Mandy Blonde, and she s seen as emotionally vulnerable and inconsistent, always changing her mind This annoyed me a lot.My second reservation is whether, in creating his onion that requires so many peeling back of layers, Hammer has overdone the complexity There are a number of small incidents and minor characters in the book whose inclusion seemed to me to add nothing to the story, but simply added to the intricacies meant to confound the reader.The book is highly impressive as a debut novel, and a major accomplishment for Chris Hammer The TV rights had sold to a production company for a mini series before the actual publication date It is an enthralling read, but one that requires a bit of effort on the part of the reader It is a long and convoluted story, and the reader needs to concentrate Ultimately the reader will be rewarded by this excellent crime novel flag 11 likesLike see review View all 4 comments Sep 01, 2018 Rachel Reed rated it liked it An OK plot and the book nicely captures country Australia However, I found it irritatingly clich in particular the female characters The author uses the terms beautiful and pretty repeatedly when describing any young female character All the women are stereotypes and passive Of course, one of the young females finds Martin the main character attractive and surprise, surprise, the middle aged man gets to shag the younger woman Of course this book was written by a middle aged man flag 11 likesLike see review Nov 23, 2018 Roman Clodia rated it liked it review of another edition There is something wrong with this town, as if the heat has turned it, like milk curdled by the sun A great start to this as a journalist returns to a town where a churchman shot 5 people a year ago for no known reason, and starts uncovering anomalies and hidden stories that begin to unravel but at some point this tips over from nicely complex to ridiculously over packed As the book itself says, four different crimes, all taking place in and around the same drought ravaged town and give There is something wrong with this town, as if the heat has turned it, like milk curdled by the sun A great start to this as a journalist returns to a town where a churchman shot 5 people a year ago for no known reason, and starts uncovering anomalies and hidden stories that begin to unravel but at some point this tips over from nicely complex to ridiculously over packed As the book itself says, four different crimes, all taking place in and around the same drought ravaged town and given that this is a miniscule village inhabited by, like, twelve people ok, I exaggerate , the sheer suspension of disbelief required was way above my threshold view spoiler 5 murders, a police shooting, two rapes killings, another rape in the past, a fatal accident, a couple of suicides that were really killings, a tortured cat, a kidnapped baby, secret identities, a criminal biker gang, Afghanistan, an obligatory mention of jihadists that bring in the security services, drugs and a forgery inheritance plot phew hide spoiler It s such a common mistake in a rookie novelist that you d think an agent, editor, someone would have warned that there s no need to pack the contents of about three books in one It s a shame as I like Hammer s writing and his quirky characterization The names are distracting, though Mandalay Blonde yep that s her given name , Codger Harris, Harley Snouch my mind snicked every time they were mentioned and by the final couple of chapters things were so fast and furious that it s a whirlwind of lies, deceptions, new last minute introductions and first time mention plots.So huge potential and I did enjoy reading this but less would have been , to quote a cliche Thanks to Headline for an ARC via NetGalley flag 11 likesLike see review View all 5 comments Jul 25, 2018 Carol Reading Writing and Riesling rated it it was amazing Shelves own 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 begins to cough uncontrollably, his throat raw P 1 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 begins to cough uncontrollably, his throat raw P 104Can you feel it Can you see it Can you smell it Bush fire engulfing the house Chris Hammer delivers a crime thriller like no other The prose is divine, sometimes irreverent which adds a little dose of humour to the read You will find yourself transported to small rural town Australia, a town fighting to survive, a town and its inhabitants facing pressures from all sides Mother Nature is not kind, the extreme weather conditions affecting all, the economy is slowly suffocating resilience out of the town The misdeeds of the past and the present collide to bring out the best and the worst in people This is a spectacular whydunnit that asks the big questions re history and the information we assimilate daily Whose account of history are we hearing Who benefits from this dialogue Whose agenda is behind this What where is the gain Whose truth are we listening to, influenced by A fabulous 5 star read a new author to add to your Must Read list and one to add to my Best of 2018 list I can t wait to see this on the big screen and to read what is coming next from this author flag 10 likesLike see review View all 9 comments Jul 31, 2018 Allyce Cameron rated it liked it 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 really didn t feel the romance at all, they hooked up a co 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 really didn t feel the romance at all, they hooked up a couple of times and then it was like I m going to take you away from this place and we ll be together It was a bit much for knowing each other a week or so Also I thought the whole rain as a cleansing metaphor has been done Many times Overall a good read but not a standout flag 10 likesLike see review View 1 comment Jan 09, 2019 Carolyn rated it it was amazing Shelves favorites Recently, readers have witnessed the emergence of several remarkable authors of mystery thrillers in a category which might be classified as Aussie Noir This compelling, multi layered book, by first time fiction writer, Chris Hammer, falls into that category This complex thriller is my first 5 star read of 2019, and will definitely be on my favourite list at the close of the year I was riveted to its pages and couldn t put it down The plot is complicated, but patience is well rewarded Se Recently, readers have witnessed the emergence of several remarkable authors of mystery thrillers in a category which might be classified as Aussie Noir This compelling, multi layered book, by first time fiction writer, Chris Hammer, falls into that category This complex thriller is my first 5 star read of 2019, and will definitely be on my favourite list at the close of the year I was riveted to its pages and couldn t put it down The plot is complicated, but patience is well rewarded Set in a remote, dying town, Riversend, in New South Wales, and in its harsh surrounding scrublands, I was transported by the scorching heat and tension This atmospheric story is peopled by fascinating and believable characters Martin Scarsden, a middle aged reporter for a leading Sydney newspaper, has been suffering from PTSD, after experiencing a frightening, life threatening trauma while on assignment in the Middle East His boss sends him to the parched, isolated town of Riversend on what he considers to be an easy human interest story He is to document how the town is recovering from a horrifying event Nearly a year previously, a deadly, inexplicable event occurred A popular, charismatic, even beloved Anglican priest, Reverend Byron Swift, stood on the church doorsteps and opened gunfire on the crowd outside, killing five men This carnage only ended when Byron, himself, was shot and killed by Robbie Haus Jones, the young local policeman As he meets and interviews the townspeople, Martin is shocked and puzzled by how many still regard the popular priest fondly, even the family members of some of the murdered men At the time of the killings, a fellow reporter from the same newspaper ran an exclusive article, attributing the motive to revenge for outing his sexual abuse of young boys Discovering very few believe reports that the reverend was a pedophile Martin becomes obsessed with trying to uncover the motive for this horrendous shooting rampage Shortly after his arrival, Martin encounters two eccentric, elderly men One is a shuffling, dishevelled, cranky tramp dressed incongruously in a heavy coat despite the sweltering heat The other is a naked hermit, living alone in the scrublands There is much to these men than what they appear He also meets a beautiful single woman who runs a local bookstore cafe, with the delightful name of Mandalay Blond She is the mother of a toddler boy She urges Martin to keep investigating what happened at the church as the priest was a good man and not a pedophile, as reported As he interviews the townspeople, he encounters trauma, guilt, lies, deceptions, secrets and concealed identities As a reporter, many are hostile to his presence After he helps with a bushfire which destroys livestock and homes and saving the life of a young man, the son of a victim of the church shootings , people start to open up to him He is amazed that the young policeman who ended the killings by shooting the priest dead, is overcome with guilt and loved Reverend Swift as a best friend As the anniversary of the shooting rampage draws near, reporters and cameramen descend on the notorious murder town Soon two bodies are found in a dammed up riverbed in scrubland territory They are believed to be the remains of two German female backpackers, who coincidentally disappeared near the time of the shooting spree Was the murderous priest somehow involved There has also a couple of deaths regarded as suicides Martin is staying in a run down motel The hotel, some bars, restaurants and businesses have been closed and the newcomers are forced to stay in the nearest town Soon state police arrive from Sydney when the newest bodies are discovered at the dam site Embedded within this group is an intelligence officer from the ASIO This is the national security agency responsible for protecting its citizens from terrorism, espionage, sabotage and foreign interference What could he be doing here The complicated plot encompasses multiple threads There is the mystery of the motive for the priest s killing rampage, the unlikely suicides, the two bodies discovered at the dam site, and a biker gang based in Adelaide It is a story of hidden identity, concealed connections and old secrets which reverberate in the present day No facts are wasted in the writing Even Martin s discovery of a dead tortured cat becomes important later As truths are revealed, Martin s daily dispatches to his newspaper become entangled in the lies He is dismissed from his job and replaced by a objective reporter He begins to question his worth as a passionate reporter who becomes too entangled in his stories, and the effect it has had on his life He also believes he may be falling in love for the first time with Mandalay Mandy Wanting to see the mysteries through to their conclusion, and reluctant to say goodbye to Mandy, he lingers in Riversend A complex, atmospheric thriller You can feel the heat and trauma which engulfs this story I sincerely hope the writer has books forthcoming flag 8 likesLike see review View all 13 comments previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next new topicDiscuss This Book topics posts views last activity Review of Scrublands 3 10 Nov 19, 2018 08 29PM Aussie Readers WIN a copy of Scrublands by Chris Hammer, entries close midnight Friday 24 August 2018 11 19 Aug 26, 2018 04 27AM Aussie Lovers of Scrublands by Chris Hammer Ends 17 June 2 21 Jun 06, 2018 12 47AM More topics Share Recommend It Stats Recent Status Updates Readers Also Enjoyed Chris HammerChris Hammer was a journalist for 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 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 Books by Chris Hammer More Trivia About Scrublands No trivia or quizzes yet Add some now Quotes from Scrublands But then again, the troubled are always young the old are simply pathetic Grow old and the edges come off the mind rationalises, the heart concedes, the soul surrenders We all grow old and frail, inside as well as out The twists of reaction become entrenched, character traits become permanent the resentments, the denials, the rationalisations We learn to live with it It s so much troubling when we are young and honest 0 likes More quotes renderRatingGraph 868, 1238, 532, 109, 33 if rating_details rating_detailssert top rating_graph Company About us Careers Terms Privacy Help Work with us Authors Advertise Authors ads blog API Connect 2019 , Inc Mobile version

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    Shrubland Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community characterised by vegetation dominated by shrubs, often also including grasses, herbs, and geophytes.Shrubland may either occur naturally or be the result of human activity It may be the mature vegetation type in a particular region and remain stable over time, or a transitional community that occurs temporarily as the result of Scrubland Scrubland komt voor in alle staten van het Australische vasteland en het Noordelijk Territorium.De dominerende plantengroei zijn het helmgras Spinifex en dwergvormen van de Acacia en de Eucalyptus.De gemiddelde neerslag in scrublands bedraagt ongeveer mm per jaar. Scrubland Define Scrubland at Dictionary Historical Examples of scrubland A freight train dragged southward in the twilight, wending its way through pine forest and scrubland. Farrells Bookshop Mornington FICTION Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Gail Honeyman Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple Craters Of The Moon National Monument Preserve U.S Craters of the Moon is a vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush We invite you to explore this weird and scenic landscape where yesterday s volcanic events are likely to continue tomorrow Australian Independent Bookseller Home We have been providing a book haven for readers in the beautiful southside of the Yarra River at Southgate since Our bookshop is friendly and welcoming, relaxing spaces, our range carefully selected with all book lovers in mind. About Kolkol Mountain Lodge Fynbos Fynbos is the name given to the hard leaved scrublands and heath lands found in the coastal plains and mountains of the South Western and Southern Cape of South Africa. True Crime News Weekly True Crime Stories In Real Time REFRAIN FROM IMPLYING MRS RINEHART HAS HAD ANY ASSOCIATION WITH PALADIN Mining heiress Gina Rinehart sends tetchy message to us Wildfires Weather Wiz Kids SURFACE FIRES The most common type of wildfires, surface fires move slowly and burn along the forest floor, killing and damaging vegetation. GROUND FIRES These are usually started by lightning, ground fires burn on or below the forest floor through the root system. CROWN FIRES These fires spread by wind moving quickly along the tops of trees. Harry Hartog Booksellers About Harry Hartog More than simply a space lined with shelves, Harry Hartog is a meeting place between the worlds found inside books and the world around us.

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    About "Chris Hammer"

      • Chris Hammer

        Chris HammerChris Hammer was a journalist for 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 than 30 countries on six continents In Canberra, roles included chief political correspondent for Th Chris HammerChris Hammer was a journalist for 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 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


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    1. Chris Hammer joins the rising number of illustrious writers in the Aussie Noir genre, and his debut novel is a humdinger of a riveting and atmospheric crime read It is set in the remote and isolated dying town of Riverend, surrounded by mulga scrubland It has acquired a notorious reputation as the place where a charismatic and popular young priest, Byron Swift, inexplicably shot and killed 5 people at St James Church, only to be shot dead himself by Constable Robbie Haus Jones Riverend has be Ch [...]


    2. 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 was the town dying But as Martin tried to interview the Journa [...]


    3. A lot goes on in this novel and I do mean a lot A seasoned but burned out journalist descends upon a dying town in the Australian outback to cover the aftermath of a mass shooting Over the course of two weeks he encounters suicides, romance, murders, a car accident, fires and on and on This novel is overcrowded with occurrences The romance is a bit creepy and should have been cut but I did like the portrayal of some very eccentric characters I do think this is a solid debut and look forward A lo [...]


    4. Lies and calumnies, a loss of perspective, the past bearing down One year ago, a priest laid waste to five men, coolly mowing them down from the front steps of the church The priest is then shot and killed by the town constable Who was this priest A man of God, an impostor with an agenda, or something else entirely Journalist Martin Scarsden is sent to Riversend to do a followup article on how the town is faring after the horrific affair He finds the small town to be withering, dying Lies and ca [...]


    5. 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 recover When Martin arrives in the small rural tow S [...]


    6. 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 airport thriller style novel shoe horned into a rural A [...]


    7. 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 Australia, at barbecues and bars, at cafes and canteens, at h It is, [...]


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