Books & Literature

Book Review: The Tilt, by Chris Hammer

THRILLER: The latest stunning thriller from the bestselling author of Scrublands and Treasure & Dirt.

A patchwork of different timelines within the same location, each thread revealing more, until the modern-day climax brings them together in a series of startling revelations.

Feature image credit: Zac Edmonds (via Unsplash)

The Tilt is the fifth novel from former Australian journalist-turned-writer Chris Hammer, who has penned Scrublands, Silver & Trust (aka The Martin Scarsden Trilogy) and, previously, Treasure & Dirt (the first Lucic & Buchanan novel). Like the four novels that preceded it, the landscape is as integral a character as the people who inhabit it.

Hammer’s latest novel takes Nell Buchanan, now a fully-fledged homicide detective, and her police partner Ivan Lucic to the Murray River’s banks, between New South Wales and Victoria. The motivation for the visit is the wanton destruction of a river regulator, which has resulted in the discovery of a decades-old body within its foundation.

The body is the first but not the last, and as further discoveries are made, it becomes clear that this idyllic remote location hides a myriad of dark secrets, from both the past and the present. However, they’re not all that’s coming to light. It is soon revealed that there is an extremely personal connection for many of the residents, particularly those who share the Buchanan surname. As Buchanan digs, literally and in investigative mode, she uncovers family secrets that could jeopardise both the cases and her familial relationships.

Both Lucic and Buchanan have appeared within previous novels and there are references to characters who featured more prominently in those novels. The most impressive aspect of Hammer’s work lies in the fact that these are (to use film and TV parlance) easter eggs – they enhance the experience, but are not essential to enjoying the individual novels.

The Tilt is also the first of Hammer’s novels to use a multiple-narrative technique. There is the current day-to-day of Lucic and Buchanan’s time, a flashback to the early 1970s, and a police statement narrative that goes back even further. These three disparate narratives, over the course of the novel, feed the reader breadcrumbs that lead to the climatic solution of the multiple investigative courses.

Hammer has also repurposed actual Murray River locations into the fictional narrative. These locations are drawn from his non-fiction tome The River and bring the story to a point of multidimensional visuality that begs the question: When will we see these stories hit the screen?

Until then, this reviewer will add that to his waitlist, which includes a third Lucic and Buchanan novel from Chris Hammer, if he is so inclined.

Reviewed by Glen Christie

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: October 2022
RRP: $32.99

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