‘The third Martin Scarsden novel from the author of the CWA John Creasy (NEW BLOOD) DAGGER award-winning SCRUBLANDS’
[ About the Book ]
On a bright sunny day in Port Silver, ex-journalist Martin Scarsden misses a call from his girlfriend Mandy. Checking his voicemail later, all he hears is her terrified scream before the phone cuts off.
Back at the house, he finds a policeman unconscious on the floor, and Mandy gone.
So starts a twisting tale of intrigue and danger, as Martin probes the past of the woman he loves, a woman who has buried her former life deep.
And for the first time, Mandy finds denial impossible, now the body of a man has been discovered – a man to whom she was engaged to marry. It’s time to face her demons once and for all; it’s time she learned how to trust.
Set in a Sydney riven with corruption and nepotism, privilege and power, TRUST is the third riveting novel from award-winning and internationally acclaimed writer Chris Hammer.
[ My Review ]
TRUST by Chris Hammer was published on January 7th with Wildfire (Headline Imprint) and is the third book in this series from a man who has been described as the ‘master of Australian noir’ I had heard of Scrublands but had never read it so when an opportunity to read TRUST arose I was thrilled. Although this is part of a series I had no hesitation in diving in blind. I was actually very excited as I was ready for a top-notch crime thriller that would entertain and shock me and give me the complete distraction that I was looking for.
Set in Sydney and it’s surrounding areas, TRUST sees renowned journalist and a true-crime writer Martin Scarsden relaxed and living in Port Silver with his girlfriend Mandalay,’Mandy’ Blonde and her young son, Liam. Days are spent in relative peace and seclusion as they spend time renovating their cliff house. Martin Scarsden has lived a very frenetic life but now, with Mandy and Liam, it is time to take stock of his life and finally breathe.
‘Nothing is urgent here, not anymore. The days of subjugation, to the dictates of phone calls and editors, to deadlines and scoops, to egos and rivalries, are past. For sixteen months they have lived here at Port Silver – Martin, Mandalay and Liam – repairing their house on the cliffs above the beach, repairing their lives. Constructing a new and more robust reality, quarantined from the past’
But peace is a fragile thing. On the beach with Liam, Martin is thinking about how his life has been, and the perfection of this time right now, when his mobile rings. Not wanting the intrusion Martin ignores it but it rings again. The persistent ringing finally pulls a frustrated Martin from his reverie and he answers. It is his former editor Max Fuller urgently looking for Martin to meet up with him. He has a story and it’s big, one that will impact many sections of society and he is looking for Martin’s investigative skills to fully unearth the truth. Not willing to discuss it over the phone, they make a tentative arrangement with Martin remaining uncommitted but open to listening. Following the call Martin sees a missed call from Mandy with a voicemail. When he listens he hears Mandy screaming in terror and his blood runs cold. Grabbing Liam, he rushes back to the house to discover no trace of Mandy, only the unconscious body of a policeman. Martin quickly realises that his tranquillity has been shattered. Where is Mandy? Why has she disappeared in such a dramatic fashion?
Mandy has a colourful past and has been less than truthful with Martin. Her experiences have left her with serious trust issues. Now her past is finally catching up with her and in order to move on, she needs to decide if she is ready to reveal all to Martin. Meanwhile Martin finds himself caught up in unearthing a scandal, strangely linked to Mandy’s past, that has tentacles reaching far and wide. He is unsure who to trust, who he can depend on as the past actions of others come to the fore. TRUST is a race against time, a race for survival, but who remains standing?
I absolutely devoured TRUST. It is a complex, addictive read that just compels the reader on as the tangled web of lies and intrigue continue to unravel revealing the poison that has infiltrated the upper echelons of society. Greed, corruption, power-games, privilege and fraud all combine to make TRUST an exciting and riveting novel. Martin Scarsden is persistent in his search for the truth and, along the way, his investigations expose the treachery of those in powerful positions. As an aside, one very interesting element of this book is that it is set in Sydney, post-covid. There are scattered references to the pandemic, in relation to masks, businesses affected and one mention of hand-sanitiser. I thought I would be a bit freaked out by it but it actually gave hope in a strange way and added an additional layer of authenticity to the story.
TRUST is a fast-paced, adrenaline pumping race to the finish. Martin Scarsden is a fantastic protagonist, fearless in his digging to uncover the truth. Australian Noir is new to me and I quite simply loved it. There’s almost an old-fashioned vibe to TRUST, reminding me of Chinatown, that famous 1974 movie with Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston. TRUST contains a sophisticated and intelligent plot and is a very vivid and thrilling read. Highly recommended!
[ Bio ]
Chris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. For many years he was a roving foreign correspondent for SBS TV’s flagship current affairs program Dateline. He has reported from more than thirty countries on six continents.
Chris’s non-fiction book, The River, published in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award.
Scrublands, his first novel, was published in 2018 and won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, as well as being shortlisted for Best Debut Fiction at the Indie Book Awards, and Best General Fiction at the ABIA Awards. It has also been longlisted for the Ned Kelly Best Crime Novel of the Year. Scrublands was optioned for television by Easy Tiger (a FremantleMedia company).
SILVER was a Times and Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year 2020 and longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger in the UK and was shortlisted for AIBA Awards and Booksellers’ Choice Awards in Australia.
Chris has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University and a master’s degree in international relations from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra with his wife, Dr Tomoko Akami. The couple have two children.
Website – Chris Hammer Author – Official website of Australian crime fiction author Chris Hammer
Twitter – @hammerNow