Books & Literature

Book Review: The Seven, by Chris Hammer

CRIME: The latest stunning thriller from the bestselling author of Scrublands and The Tilt.

An enjoyable mystery with modern-day murders, dirty deals, and the powerful families who will go to any lengths to retain their wealth and keep their secrets.

Feature image credit: Allen & Unwin

Chris Hammer hit the Aussie crime noir shelves in 2018 with his debut novel, and just five years later he returns with his sixth novel, The Seven. This novel also marks the third in his Lucic and Buchanan series, preceded by Treasure and Dirt and The Tilt.

When a body is discovered in a highly affluent regional area, Ivan Lucic and Nell Buchanan are brought in to investigate. They soon come to realise that the town of Yowanderie is filled with secrets, reaching back over a century, all linked to the town’s illustrious founding families, aka “The Seven,” one of whom is the deceased.

As they begin to dig, they come to realise that there is a lot more going on and that this murder is not the first and may not be the last. Forty years earlier, another of The Seven vanished, alongside the daughter of the senior police officer, and only one of the two bodies was ever recovered.

With a high-stakes game of water trading taking place, along with high-profile community members pushing for national political recognition, the financial motives for murder are varied and various, especially when it’s uncovered that the victim was moving money for other members of The Seven.

As with previous novels, Hammer darts back and forth between differing time periods that showcase the emergence of both Yowanderie and The Seven. Reaching as far back as the early 20th century, through the letters of a young mixed-race First Nations woman named Bessie, to the events that led to the murder of one of their own in the mid-1980s.

As he has done since the publication of his second novel onwards, Hammer brings back numerous familiar faces — like literary Easter Eggs — which add subtle but immense pleasure to dedicated readers and hark back to his very first novel, Scrublands, while still allowing The Seven to be its own self. There is even a self-deprecating reference to the soon-to-be released Scrublands TV series, which made this reviewer laugh aloud.

The most noticeable difference with this novel, which will stand out to the Hammer devotee, is that location has taken somewhat of a backseat to an atypical murder mystery style. There is still a link to country, particularly through the water trading development discussion, but it feels more like a commentary on the power of the privileged and politically connected.

Whether you’re a first-time reader or long-time fan, The Seven affirms Chris Hammer’s position as one of Australia’s premier crime novelists. Having now come full circle, of sorts, it will be interesting to see where he takes readers next.

Reviewed by Glen Christie

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: October 2023
RRP: $32.99

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