Scrublands is the epic novel about rural life in Australia that we need right now ... He's done the background research and now woven it into a crime novel that slowly unwraps the layers of complexity that constitute the tightly woven Riversend ... As might be expected, Hammer's account of the media shenanigans that ensue is spot on ... Scrublands is a rural crime novel with remarkable breadth and depth that would also make a superb TV series.
... explosive ... Hammer skillfully guides Martin through a series of interviews with the reluctant townsfolk to get to the truth. With vivid prose, a smothering sense of atmosphere and an at-times heart-wrenching story, Scrublands is a sizzling hot read for a cold winter night.
A novel’s opening moments are there to rivet readers’ attention; this one begins with a dazzler ... This story is a mix of beautiful writing and a maddeningly slow, overly complex plot. Still, we’re hooked.
Hammer’s focus... remains razor-sharp in this slowly boiling tale of the secrets and vice beneath the surface of quiet habitats ... The novel is part Matryoshka and part origami that unfolds slowly over the course of the story, the occasional quirky elements of which sometimes hide a sharp and dangerous edge, even as it becomes a tale of redemption tinged with sadness ... Hammer’s prose is lyrical and deeply descriptive. One can almost feel the heat of the Australian scrubland rising from the book’s binding. My only quibble with the multilayered mystery is that it occasionally felt as if Hammer was taking just a bit too long to arrive at his ultimate destination. Nonetheless, the intricate plotting, turns of phrase and sharply drawn characters make Hammer’s debut work of fiction worth reading.
To be perfectly honest, this is not the usual preferred genre for the author of this article, however, it was an enjoyable read nonetheless. Hammer skilfully portrays the plight of a scorned reporter without making it feel too much like a pity party when literally no one likes him on his presentation to town ... From the very beginning, the story has enough punch to captivate the reader and continues to do so throughout ... Twists in the plot await the reader at every turn and allow the story to feel fully thought out. I would like to say however that it could have probably been just as effective in 100 or so fewer pages. Overall, Scrublands is a novel which really fulfils the brief as a well written piece of literature. Full of rich imagery, it really gets to the heart of the Australian battler while remaining true to the roots of a good crime fiction.