Author: Chris Hammer
Published: October 1st 2019
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Suspense, Thriller
Rating: 4.5 stars
Martin Scarsden returns in the sequel to the bestselling Scrublands.
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.
‘The lighthouse sits atop Nobb Hill, catching the afternoon sun, a beacon of glowing white, almost silver against the clarity of the sky. Silver.’
The much praised author of last year’s smash hit, Scrublands, returns with Silver. Chris Hammer brings back dogged journalist Martin Scarsden for another round of crime. This time Martin is confronted with a brutal and complicated crime, striking at the heart of his life, as well as his painful past.
Silver sees the homecoming of prodigal son Martin Scarsden. Many years ago, Martin made the decision to move away from his home town of Port Silver and he chose not to return, due to his painful past. But things change for Martin when his new partner, Mandy, acquires a house in his old hunting ground. Martin is devoted to Mandy and he must attempt to put the past behind him in an effort to seal his future. On the back of the traumatic events of Scrublands, Martin returns rather reluctantly to Port Silver. When he arrives he is greeted with a horrific murder scene. Blood is everyone and it seems it is on Mandy’s hands too. Martin must do all he can to exonerate Mandy from taking the fall for this brutal crime. But with the authorities reluctant to chase other leads, or consider other suspects, Martin is on a personal crusade to free Mandy from this wrongful charge. As Martin delves deeper into this complex case, a world of debauchery, drugs, alternative living, religion and sexual relations is uncovered, attracting the full attention of the media. Martin must simultaneously deal with his case a journalist, a partner to the accused, and an undercover detective of sorts. But confronting the past is his overriding concern, striking at the heart of everything.
Chris Hammer quickly gained a space in my line up of top notch Australian crime writers, after his explosive thriller Scrublands hit my radar last year. I haven’t forgotten this novel in a hurry and it was top shelf crime writing in my opinion. I have been eagerly anticipating the release of Hammer’s next novel and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
Silver sees Martin Scarsden placed in yet another difficult bind, he must confront his painful past and family roots. Silver opens up an opportunity for the reader to glean a little more about Martin, the impact of previous events on this hardened man, his past trauma and what made him the man he is today. I appreciated this character insight, as well as the character follow up.
‘Until a year ago he’s been a correspondent, wearing his profession like a carspace, proud and remote and emotionless, but no longer. Something has happened in the Middle east, something more down in the drought stricken Riverina. He’s changed, the shield has been stripped away.’
I also liked Hammer’s sub narrative focus on the continuation of Mandy and Martin’s relationship. The dynamics of this partnership within the confines of Martin’s old stomping ground made for some interesting reading fodder.
Yet again Hammer is the master of crime and vivid crime scenes. The crime Martin walks into (what are his chances?) is the stuff of nightmares. However, although it was harrowing, I admired Hammer for his ability to transfer this onto the page with such clarity. I felt incredibly uncomfortable, but I did feel like I was standing in the exact spot Martin was situated in as he reeled off his observations of this tragic scene.
The narrative is carefully plotted and full of unexpected twists, that made me further appreciate Hammer’s astute approach to his writing. He certainly tested me, more than a few times. Hammer is also very good at raising our consciousness to a variety of issues that circulate around this crime story. I was able to consider what my thoughts were on real estate, development opportunities, economic ties, the environment, land rights, progress versus protection and small town community relations. There is plenty to consider, which is all offset to the overriding crime at large. The crime itself will test any seasoned crime fiction fan, and the final fallout was quite shocking!
My last word on Silver must be a nod to the landscape. Hammer displays his prowess in this department and at all points where setting has a part to play. The landscape acts as an overlay, providing an umbrella over the events of the novel and stirring up a strong sense of tension to heighten the action of this consuming tale.
‘Five Mile Beach stretches into the distance, the ocean to the left, coastal scrub and cane fields to the right, the homes of Port Silver’s middle class below. Out to the sea, storm clouds are gathering on the horizon. It’s an impressive vista, stunning.’
Silver is a story told with great conviction and speculation. Chris Hammer’s second novel is a dynamic crime based thriller, that deftly combines murder, intention, revenge, restitution, corruption and the past in the one involving novel. Silver is an excellent follow up to Scrublands and it will definitely have you pondering what Martin Scarsden will be confronted with next!
Silver by Chris Hammer was published on 1st October 2019 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Silver, Chris Hammer, visit here.
*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
*Book #11 of the 2019 Aussie male author challenge.