This month’s book received mixed reviews from book club members.
Whilst all agreed the story was a page turner, the group was divided as to the overall quality of the end product, a few readers finding some plot points a tad ridiculous.
This aside, Chris Hammer is forging himself as a significant author in the newly emerged genre of Australian Rural Crime and Scrublands ticks all the boxes for a compelling thriller.
The prologue creates an instant mission for readers to ride the journey till the final page.
The hook? A young, charismatic priest calmly dons his vestments and opens fire on his small town congregation, killing five men before being shot dead himself.
A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in drought stricken 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.
Even though the twists that unravel are both complicated and convoluted, intrigue is sustained, and the ultimate reason for the shooting is revealed at the very end.
Many members were swept away by the range of opinions the townspeople held about the priest.
Portrayed as an amazing minister, trusted friend and lover, as well as a horrific pervert, the priest’s character is examined through these varying sentiments.
Some members felt this aspect was true to life, that people’s perceptions based on their understandings can differ so extremely, and how horrifyingly easy it is to destroy a good reputation with a nasty word or two.
The book was considerably long and the oppressive heat of drought was revisited by the author in its own oppressive way, with rain falling onto the very final page in expected fashion.
Regardless, Scrublands, is undoubtedly a captivating read for the holidays!
Grab a copy for yourself or to use as a stocking filler.
It is sure to ignite some interesting conversations.
Next month’s book is Far from the Manning Crowd by Thomas Hardy