I have mentioned before how much I enjoy the ‘Fortunately’ podcast, featuring Jane Garvey and Fi Glover. A week or so ago they had Ann Cleeves the author of the Shetland and Vera series that are shown on the BBC here in the UK. It’s well worth listening to and they discuss her previous employment and a very embarrassing incident for Jane.
At the end of the podcast Ann talks about reading recommendations and one of them is Jane Harper, the Australian writer and one of my favourites. She also said, that if you like her, then Scrublands from Chris Hammer is likely to be one for you.
That was enough for me and here it is.
Like the Jane Harper books, the Australian bush and the fierce Australian weather are almost characters in their own right.
This does not have a straightforward plot. There are twists, turns and unexpected revelations. It’s not a who dunnit – as the crime is done in full view of the community, but the slow uncovering of the why is expertly done. You can see recomendations from the cover, Val McDiarmid and Ann Cleeves. I’ll add my not quite so impressive recommendation to those.
Chris Hammer is a journalist and you can tell he knows the industry well. His protagonist is also a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald who has his own psychological baggage to carry along as he attempts to write a simple report on ‘one year on, how has the town coped’. Hammer knows how to tell a tale and takes you into the underbelly of a small town in the Riverina district of eastern New South Wales, suffering from the heat, economic decline and a disastrous drought. I loved it.