Silver can also be easily read without having experienced Scrublands.
In mid-2018, former SBS TV journalist, Chris Hammer, released his first novel, Scrublands, and now a small number of his central characters return in Silver.
Following the events of Scrublands, Martin Scarsden has recently completed a stint in Sydney, writing a book about the events in Riversend. At the same time, Mandalay (Mandy) Blonde has relocated from Riversend to the seaside town of Port Silver, where she has inherited property.
On the day that Martin arrives in Port Silver, he also arrives at the property Mandy is renting to find a dead body – that of his childhood friend, Jasper Speight. Port Silver is the birthplace of Martin Scarsden – a place with a history that he sought to escape at 18 – and where he finds himself reliving past traumas, facing new issues and caught up in a web of lies and deception, in this faux paradise by the sea.
As the police and Martin investigate Jasper’s murder, a number of seemingly separate secrets criss-cross and Martin’s past comes rushing back to confront him. As history repeats, with it comes a media circus (similar to that which rolled into Riversend) arriving to focus, once again, on Martin and Mandy. With a rising body count and a number of financially motived suspects, Martin must confront the truth about his past, while attempting to save his future with Mandy and her son, Liam.
Like Hammer’s previous novel, there is the continued descriptive prose which brings the setting and surrounds to life, in vivid visual detail – an aspect that garnered the highest praise for the novel. The better part of Silver however, was the more intimate and personal details of Martin’s life in Port Silver. Unlike Scrublands, which I found to be a tale about a place and its people; Silverhas a deeper personalised story, revealing greater detail of what makes Martin Scarsden the hard-nosed journalist we met in Riverside.
Silver can also be easily read without having experienced Scrublands, with only cursory references to the previous novel, which will in no way dampen a post-Silver reading. It will be interesting to see when and where and, indeed if, Hammer will return with a third Martin Scarsden novel, possibly harking back to Martin’s time in the Middle East? Whatever may come next, take the time to enjoy these “Aussie noir” novels.
Reviewed by Glen Christie
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: October 2019