A true Aussie crime-noir novel, filled with characters just ripe for the screen.
Martin Scarsden, freelance journalist, and his partner, Mandalay (Mandy) Blonde, a woman whose past has never been completely revealed, are back, in Chris Hammer’s third volume, Trust.
The Scarsden/Blonde relationship began in Hammer’s first novel, Scrublands, set in the Australian Outback. From there, Hammer took his characters into a ‘sea change’ and a confrontation with Martin’s past in book two, Silver. Now, Hammer takes the pair – unwillingly – into the heart of Australia’s biggest city, Sydney.
The novel begins in the heart of Sydney’s financial district years before the events of the first two novels, before jumping to a sunny Sunday in Port Silver. Blissfully unaware of what is taking place at their family home, Martin and his step-son, Liam, are enjoying some waterside fun. When Martin checks his phone, he finds a voicemail from Mandy – a long, terrifying scream. Returning home, he finds Mandy gone and a police contact from his recent past, unconscious on the floor.
Meanwhile, Mandy awakes in Sydney, the victim of a kidnapping relating to her previous time in Sydney and events which ultimate lead her to escape to the outback scrubland where she and Martin met.
Over the ensuing 460-plus pages we come to learn a lot more about Mandy than anyone expected while, for Mandy, it is a journey in learning that trust is essential to survival, to releasing the demons of the past and, most importantly, to ensuring the best for the future.
Hammer’s ability to describe the Sydney streetscape makes the tale come alive, incorporating elements of the recent bushfires and the on-going pandemic impact. His characters – some old friends, combined with new inclusions (both friend and foe) – makes Trusta joy to read and difficult to put down.
As with its predecessor, Silver, this is a background story, this time of Mandy’s life, combined with current-day violent and fast-paced events. The story is, in essence, only 8-days in length, which makes this journey of personal discovery and exciting noir crime story a worthy addition.
It is conceivable that this volume will bring the Scarsden/Blonde series to an end and it is a fitting and satisfying conclusion. That said, there are plenty of other characters within the series that could keep readers coming back.
In the meantime, Trust in Chris Hammer – you won’t be disappointed.
Reviewed by Glen Christie
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: October 2020