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Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781472272997

Price: £25

ON SALE: 28th September 2021

Genre: Fiction & Related Items / Crime & Mystery

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In the outback, nothing stays buried forever…

‘Classic Hammer. A crime novel that will stay with me for a long time.’
Ann Cleeves

‘This novel is Hammer’s best work yet.’ The Times

‘A complex, twisty thriller, with nuanced characters and a winding plot all set in the oppressive Australian heat.’ Lisa Hall

‘This slice of Australian noir sparkles like an opal in the blistering sun.’ Lisa Gray

Opal Country is a top-notch Aussie Noir with real heat coming off the pages.’ Christopher Fowler


In the desolate outback town of Finnigans Gap, police struggle to maintain law and order. Thieves pillage opal mines, religious fanatics recruit vulnerable youngsters and billionaires do as they please.


Then an opal miner is found crucified and left to rot down his mine. Nothing about the miner’s death is straight-forward, not even who found the body. Homicide detective Ivan Lucic is sent to investigate, assisted by inexperienced young investigator Nell Buchanan.

But Finnigans Gap has already ended one police career and damaged others, and soon both officers face damning allegations and internal investigations. Have Ivan and Nell been set up, and if so, by whom?


As time runs out, their only chance at redemption is to find the killer. But the more they uncover, the more harrowing the mystery becomes, and a past long forgotten is thrown into scorching sunlight.

Because in Finnigans Gap, nothing stays buried for ever.

Praise for Chris Hammer:

‘Hammer is a great writer – a leader in Australian noir’ Michael Connelly

‘Shimmers . . . A tortured tale of blood and loss’ Val McDermid

‘Stunning – a page-turner which stays long in the memory’ Sunday Times

What's Inside

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A compulsively page-turning thriller where the parched interior looms as large as the characters
Katharine Murphy, Guardian Australia
A dark and brilliant thriller, one that lingers in the mind
Mail On Sunday
A heatwave of a novel, scorching and powerful... Extraordinary
AJ Finn
A superbly drawn, utterly compelling evocation of a small town riven by a shocking crime
Mark Brandi
Atmospheric, utterly gripping, and written with devastating beauty. Scrublands is as scorching as wildfire and as hard to look away from
Gytha Lodge, author of She Lies in Wait
Brilliant and unsettling, Scrublands stands at the junction of Snowtown and Wake in Fright, that place where Australia's mirage of bush tranquillity evaporates into our hidden fears
Paul Daley, writer and journalist
Extremely accomplished ... Deliciously noirish ... Set in the blistering heat of a remote Australian town ravaged by drought and threatened by bushfires, this is a complex, meaty, intelligent mystery ... Hammer's writing is so evocative the heat practically rises off the pages of Scrublands
Alison Flood, Guardian 'Best Recent Thrillers'
Incendiary . . . A rattling good read, ambitious in scale and scope and delivering right up to the last, powerfully moving page
Declan Hughes, Irish Times
It's hard not to compare Chris Hammer's Scrublands to Jane Harper's acclaimed The Dry ... [It will] capture your imagination from the first page
Karen Hardy, The Age
My pick for debut thriller of the month (and maybe of 2019) ... Beautifully written, this would make a terrific small-screen series
Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post
Stunning ... Scrublands is that rare combination, a page-turner that stays long in the memory
Joan Smith, Sunday Times (Crime Book of the Month)
Scrublands is the epic novel about rural life in Australia that we need right now ... 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 ... Remarkable
Sue Turnbull, Sydney Morning Herald
Classic Hammer, with the heat and the small town obsession with secrecy and past grievances. A crime novel that will stay with me for a long time.
Ann Cleeves
Hammer's portrait of a dying, drought-struck town numbed by a priest's unimaginable act of violence will capture you from the first explosive page and refuse to let go until the last. His remarkable writing takes you inside lives twisted by secrets festering beneath the melting heat of the inland, the scrub beyond waiting to burst into flame. Scrublands is the read of the year. Unforgettable
Tony Wright
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
Set in the parched Australian landscape, Scrublands is a brilliantly plotted thriller which reveals a town full of brooding secrets. I couldn't put this compelling debut down
Sarah Ward, author of The Shrouded Path
Well-rounded characters, masterful plotting and real breadth; this is an epic and immersive read
Laura Wilson, Guardian
A complex, twisty thriller, with nuanced characters and a winding plot all set in the oppressive Australian heat.
Lisa Hall
A clever and compelling small town mystery, with an evocative setting and a brilliant cast of characters. This slice of Australian noir sparkles like an opal in the blistering sun.
Lisa Gray
Opal Country is a top-notch Aussie Noir with real heat coming off the pages.
Christopher Fowler
A brilliantly atmospheric mystery.
This novel - tighter, tougher, tenser - is Hammer's best work yet.
The Times
Chris Hammer is regarded as one of Australia's best new noir crime writers, and this immersive and lyrically written thriller copper-fastens this well-deserved reputation.
Irish Independent
Gold standard Outback noir [...] Chris Hammer's best writing to date.
Crime Fiction Lover
Nobody does Australian outback crime better. Hammer nails it again.
Peterborough Telegraph
Opal Country is richly rewarding. Hammer is quite brilliant.
Shots Magazine
A fast-paced and thrilling read.
Brown Flopsy's Book Burrow
Keeps you stuck to the story like an Outback miner's shirt to his back
The Sun
A sharp thriller
Woman's Own
A master of the crime genre
South Africa Sunday Times