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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Book talk: Trust by Chris Hammer

This week Jeff Popple reviews an exciting new novel, Trust, by local author Chris Hammer. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog murdermayhemandlongdogs.com

Trust by Chris Hammer

Trust by Chris Hammer book cover

Allen & Unwin, $32.99

Canberra author Chris Hammer drew worldwide praise for his debut novel Scrublands, about murder in a drought ravaged town in the Riverina, and his follow-up mystery, Silver, set on the north coast of New South Wales.  Now in Trust he turns his attention to corruption and murder in Sydney.

Former journalist and successful true crime writer, Martin Scarsden is enjoying a peaceful time on the beach when a desperate phone call sends him rushing home to find an unconscious man sprawled on the floor and his partner, Mandy Blonde, missing. It soon becomes clear that Mandy has been kidnapped and that the reason for it lies in Sydney and her murky past with an apparent swindler, who years before stole millions from a bank before disappearing.

The discovery of a body causes a rethink of what happened five years ago, and Scarsden and Mandy suddenly find themselves entangled in the search for the missing millions and an explosive newspaper investigation into large scale judicial and political corruption.

Trust is a tightly constructed and well-paced crime thriller that smoothly moves to a suitably surprising and bloody finale. The story twists its way through several unexpected developments, and Hammer keeps the suspense at a high level for most of its length.

All the characterisations are astute, well developed and subtly drawn and Scarsden and Mandy come across as credible characters with flaws and secrets.  The tormented Scarsden is particularly well sketched, with Hammer drawing on his own journalistic background to flesh him out.

The descriptions of Sydney are vivid and evocative and there are also sharp eyed comments on politics, corruption and the “frippery” of modern media.

In all, Trust is a terrific read. I enjoyed the plotting and the rich, evocative descriptions of Scrublands, but I think that Trust is a stronger, more compelling and ultimately more thrilling crime novel.  Highly recommended.

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