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You think you know someone…
Would you bet your life on it?

A detective came to her home, drugged her and kidnapped her. She tries to make sense of it, but only one conclusion is possible: it’s the past, come to claim her.

His new life seemed perfect – right up until the moment a missed call shatters everything. Ex-journalist Martin Scarsden checks his voicemail, and all he hears is his partner Mandy’s terrified scream before the phone cuts off.

Racing home, he finds an unconscious man sprawled on the floor and Mandy gone. Someone has abducted her. But who, and why?

So starts a riveting tale of intrigue and danger, as Martin probes the hidden past of the woman he loves. But can he trust her, once her shocking secrets are finally revealed? Even if it means putting everything on the line…

Praise for Chris Hammer

‘The best Australian crime novel for years’ The Times

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

‘Intelligent, thought-provoking – an almost-perfect crime novel’ Ann Cleeves

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

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

‘Hammer’s writing is so evocative the heat practically rises off the pages’ Guardian

‘A dark and brilliant thriller’ Mail On Sunday


Karen Hardy, The Age
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
Sue Turnbull, Sydney Morning Herald
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
Sarah Ward, author of The Shrouded Path
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
AJ Finn
A heatwave of a novel, scorching and powerful... Extraordinary
Sarah Bailey
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
Paul Daley, writer and journalist
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
Mark Brandi
A superbly drawn, utterly compelling evocation of a small town riven by a shocking crime
Tony Wright
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
Katharine Murphy, Guardian Australia
A compulsively page-turning thriller where the parched interior looms as large as the characters
Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post
My pick for debut thriller of the month (and maybe of 2019) ... Beautifully written, this would make a terrific small-screen series
Declan Hughes, Irish Times
Incendiary . . . A rattling good read, ambitious in scale and scope and delivering right up to the last, powerfully moving page
Laura Wilson, Guardian
Well-rounded characters, masterful plotting and real breadth; this is an epic and immersive read
Alison Flood, Guardian 'Best Recent Thrillers'
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
Joan Smith, Sunday Times (Crime Book of the Month)
Stunning ... Scrublands is that rare combination, a page-turner that stays long in the memory
Ann Cleeves, author of Raven Black and Wild Fire
An almost perfect crime novel ... Intelligent, thought-provoking, great narrative energy, a central character who's imperfect but self-aware, and of course that amazing setting ... I loved it'
Mail On Sunday
A dark and brilliant thriller, one that lingers in the mind
Gytha Lodge, author of She Lies in Wait
Atmospheric, utterly gripping, and written with devastating beauty. Scrublands is as scorching as wildfire and as hard to look away from