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April 22, 2019


#NSW Premier’s Award 2019 shortlist Chris Hammer

by NancyElin


  • Author: Chris Hammer
  • Title: Scrublands
  • Published: 2018
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • Genre: Aussie Noir
  • Trivia: 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist
  • Trivia: 2019 ABIA Awards shortlist General Fiction Book of the Year
  • Trivia: 2019 Indie Book Awards shortlist
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • @NSW_PLA
  • @AllenandUnwin



  1. In Riversend, an isolated rural community
  2. ….afflicted by an endless drought,
  3. a young priest does the unthinkable, killing five parishioners
  4. before being taken down himself.
  5. Journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in  in town.
  6. He is assigned to write a feature story
  7. a-year-after-the-crime” how people are coping with this tragedy.
  8. Some townsfolk don’t believe the priest was a child abuser.
  9. Some people were in love with him.
  10. Martin is here to get “the story behind the story”!
  11. Was Byron Swift a mass murder…who cared?


Strong point: The heat….is a character in this book!

  1. Great descriptions of the furnace wind
  2. …the blowtorch streetscape!
  3. Martin, journo visiting town, drapes a once-damp
  4. …towel around the steering wheel.
  5. …difficult it is to drive with burning fingers!


Strong point:  narrator audio book  Rupert Degas

  1. Rupert Degas is spot on!
  2. The voices of the characters that  he creates
  3. drive this complex story.
  4. The voices he creates are distinct.
  5.  — the local derro (Aus slang for vagrant)
  6. grizzled beard, streaked with grey, rheumy eyes
  7. receptionist at local Black Dog Motel
  8. His female voices are the best I have heard a male produce!
  9. …be prepared for the Aussie accent…wonderful!
  10. I have never heard anything like him.



  1. What can I say?
  2. No spoilers…not a single one
  3. because you have to experience
  4. the twists and turns as I did.
  5. Strong point: Like us, characters grow, change,
  6. ..make mistakes and learn (or don’t).
  7. Strong point: there was NO obvious foreshadowing
  8. ….I was stunned by every revelation because the
  9. characters can be very unreliable!
  10. Nothing felt predictable.
  11. Strong point: the setting is an active part in the plot twists!
  12. Hammer uses the setting to build suspense
  13. …2 huge fires and the fight to survive
  14. ….what is hidden in a locked room at the hotel?
  15. …what happened in the church on the day of the shooting?
  16. There is just so much to like in this book.
  17. It is a ripping read
  18. ….and the audio book brings (13 hr 17 min)
  19. the story alive!
  20. …voices of  Harley Slouch, Codger Harris.
  21. I’ve read 4/6 nominees for New Writing Prize.
  22. Reading Flames this week but
  23. …this book is MY CHOICE
  24. to win UTS Glenda Adams Prize for New Writing
  25. in the NSW Premier’s  Literary Awards 2019.
  26. The winner will be announced 29 April 2019.
  27. #BestCrimeFiction
  28. This is in the top 10 of all the mystery books I have read!


3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 22 2019

    Praise indeed! Again another haven’t heard of but it sounds like something I’d like so have just bought the audiobook and will take it on dog walks for the next few weeks!

    • Apr 22 2019

      It is PERFECT for book for dogwalks…I thought of you
      at once when I listened to the audio.
      The dialogue is fast, snappy, punchy and aggressive one minute, subtle the next
      Chris Hammer nailed it….with the help of an excellent narrator Rupert Degas!
      Take the dog for a walk now…and get started! 🙂


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. #NSW Premier’s Award 2019 shortlist – read-a-thon! | NancyElin

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