'Chris Hammer is a great writer - a leader in Australian noir.' - Michael Connelly
For half a lifetime, journalist Martin Scarsden has run from his past. But now there is no escaping.
He'd vowed never to return to his hometown, Port Silver, and its traumatic memories. But now his new partner, Mandy Blonde, has inherited an old house in the seaside town and Martin knows their chance of a new life together won't come again.
Martin arrives to find his best friend from school days has been brutally murdered, and Mandy is the chief suspect. With the police curiously reluctant to pursue other suspects, Martin goes searching for the killer. And finds the past waiting for him.
He's making little progress when a terrible new crime starts to reveal the truth. The media descend on Port Silver, attracted by a story that has it all: sex, drugs, celebrity and religion. Once again, Martin finds himself in the front line of reporting.
Yet the demands of deadlines and his desire to clear Mandy are not enough: the past is ever present.
An enthralling and propulsive thriller from the acclaimed and bestselling author of Scrublands.
Veteran Australian journalist. Several published non-fiction books. His first novel Scrublands (2018) won lots of accolades and prizes, and rightly so. In it, we meet investigative journalist and former foreign correspondent Martin Scarsden, who travels to a small town outback called Riverbend to explore why a priest gunned down five locals. He gets more than he bargained for in the process. Silver is the sequel.
After finishing his true crime book about the Riverbend escapade, Martin heads north to Port Silver, a fictional community on the far north coast of NSW. His newly acquired GF Mandalay Blonde (which sounds like a strain of marijuana to me, not that I’d know anything about that) has decamped from Riverbend, infant in tow, for a sea change there because she inherited a property. Just so happens our boy grew up in Port Silver, but got out years ago for various, mainly family related reasons. No sooner does he arrive, than an old school friend of his turns up stabbed to death, in the townhouse Mandy is renting no less. She’s in a state, and has blood on her hands. Both she and Martin are suspects, she more than him. Of course, Martin investigates. He also revisits his youth. Stuff happens. Like Riverbend, Port Silver has a seamy side with abundant dark secrets. Resolution occurs. Eventually. The books stretches to almost 600 pages.
We learn heaps more about Martin from the flashbacks to his formative years. We already knew he was damaged goods. Now we know why. The dramatis personae in a book this long are many, but Mr Hammer keeps things under control. He even gives a few quasi-Dickensian names (Siobahn Snouch for instance) to help us remember.
Another highly professional job. Some wonderful descriptive writing, possibly too much for a mystery story.
My only quibble with Scrublands was that it was too long. This is 100 pages longer. I don’t think it needs to be, but what would I know? Mr Hammer’s doing just fine without my help.
A ripping yarn
Story centres around a seaside village like Yamba
Plenty of intrigue and good character development
Lots of twists to keep your mind active
The first was good, this one is better
Atmospheric and packed with action