Scrublands by Chris Hammer. (2018).
*4.5 out of 5 stars*
A young priest murders five people from the church doorstep in an isolated country town run down by drought. A year later troubled journalist Martin arrives to write a feature on the tragedy. But the stories the locals provide don’t add up to the version of events portrayed previously. Martin starts following the real story, and then a shocking new development rocks the town and media descends. Martin is risking everything to discover the truth of what happened and every step leads to a dark and complex tale.
I’d heard this book was impressive and it certainly is. I do pause at a book of considerable length (almost 500 pages) but this is well worth the read. It’s a clever, complex and many layered story that keeps the reader trying to fit all of the pieces of the puzzle together until the end. There is a lot of ‘red herrings’ re the original mystery of why the priest did what he did, but it does all come together in the end. The imagery used is brilliant, with the author smoothly painting the picture of this very small town with many hidden secrets so that readers can easily imagine it. I’d be happy to recommend this well-written Australian thriller.