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Chris Hammer

  • Original Title: MARTIN SCARSDEN
  • Publication date: August 2018
  • Publisher: ALLEN & UNWIN
  • Country: AU
  • 496 print pages
  • Crime fiction/Detective novel


  • Epoch: Contemporary
  • Time Period: 21st century
  • Location setting: Australia
  • Themes: PEOPLE facing life, Life change, PEOPLE facing the extraordinary, Psychological dysfunction, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, Violence, Fanaticism, SOCIAL CHRONICLES, Social relations, LOVE / HATE, Perversion, Sex, CHARACTERS, Atypical Character, Redemption, Search for the truth, Double identity, Commitment


Set in Australia. In an isolated country town afflicted by interminable drought, a young priest opens fire on his congregation, shooting dead five parishioners before being gunned down himself. A year later, journalist Martin Scarsden discovers that the official version of events may be wrong.


TV rights optioned by Easy Tiger TV

Translation rights sold for Book 1: UK (2-bk deal), Germany, Greece (offer), Russia, France.

Translation rights sold for Book 2: UK, Germany, Norway, China (offer), option in France, Italia, Romania, Russia

SILVER (published in October 2019) is the sequel to SCRUBLANDS

Book 1: Winner of the CWA Dagger Awards 2019, category John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger for a first-time crime writer.
Longlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) in the General fiction book of the year category

Australian publishing rights sold in a 6-fig, 2-bk deal at auction
US rights sold to Touchstone/US in a six-figure deal.

This is a piece of strong crime fiction, pitched as in the vein of THE DRY and BEFORE THE FALL.

Chris Hammer is a journalist. His first book, THE RIVER, was published with great success.



In an isolated country town afflicted by interminable drought, a charismatic and dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, shooting dead five parishioners before being gunned down himself.

A year later, accompanied by his own demons from war-time reporting, journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend. His assignment is deliberately simple: describe how the townspeople are coping as the anniversary of their tragedy approaches. But, as Martin meets the locals and hears their version of events, he begins to realise that the accepted wisdom - that the priest was paedophile whose imminent exposure was the catalyst for the shooting, established through an award-winning investigation by his own newspaper - may be wrong.

Just as Martin believes he’s making headway, a dramatic new development rocks the town. The bodies of two German backpackers - missing since the time of the church shootings - are discovered in a dam in the scrublands. It's the biggest story in Australia, the media arrive en masse. Instead of gently easing back into reporting, Martin finds himself thrown into a media storm, and with it a complex mystery.

What was the real reason behind the priest’s shooting spree? And how does it connect to the backpacker murders, if at all? Martin struggles to uncover the town’s dark secrets, putting his job, his mental state, and his life all at risk as events escalate around him.

Reports available (Book 1)
Report on Book 2 (SILVER)

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