Book Review Scrublands

Scrublands by Chris Hammer

Summary

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 more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.

Comments

For the most part, we enjoyed this book.  It had us engaged from the first chapter.  A priest in a rural community, is seen welcoming his parishioners before his Sunday services, enters the church to don his robes, he returns five minutes later, holding a hunting rifle. Killing five people, one of whom he was just seen greeting with a warm smile and a friendly handshake.  What could they have been discussing?

Scrublands is well written, and we liked the small insight into how the media, and in a particular a newspaper journalist works.  We loved the side characters and all their backstories, from single mum, Manadalay Blonde, to town recluse, Codger Harris.  However, it seemed to lose it’s way a little towards the end.  There seemed to be a lot going on in a small, rural town.  

Overall, we liked Scrublands and look forward to reading the next book in this series, Silver.

7.5/10

Read by Cultcha Club Book Club  

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