03 October 2019

Review: Silver by Chris Hammer

Silver by Chris Hammer book cover
Published 1 October 2019
RRP $32.99 AUD
* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin *

Bursting onto the scene in August 2018, Scrublands by Australian author Chris Hammer was a bestseller. I predicted it would go on to win awards and I was right. Now, seasoned journalist Martin Scarsden is back in the much hyped sequel Silver.

Martin has finished writing his book about the dramatic events at Riversend and moves with his girlfriend back to his hometown of Port Silver. No sooner does he arrive than his girlfriend is a suspect in the murder of an old school mate and the story begins.

The victim runs the local real estate company and the plot contains a complex series of proposed developments and land sales that required me to continually flick back to the delightful map of the township at the front of the book.

Port Silver really shines here. While Riversend was a dusty, hot town in the grip of drought, Port Silver is a coastal town, fresh with retirees seeking a sea-change and delicious fish and chips.

Being back in his hometown after so many years away brings up painful memories for Martin and the reader learns more about his tragic past in flashbacks. These include revelations about his father and I really enjoyed learning more about Martin's backstory.

Coming in at 563 pages, Silver is a hefty read and in my opinion there was too much description. The pace of the novel often slowed as Martin observed his surroundings and contemplated nature while I was urging him to 'get on with it'. As in Scrublands, Martin does a lot of driving from place to place in his investigations in an effort to uncover the truth, and this started to wear thin too.

Apart from the initial murder, something happens further into the book that highlights the seedy underbelly of the town and really lifted the tension. However by the time Martin uses his journalistic skills to get to the bottom of it all - which includes his return to paid journalism - the thrill lost a little of its edge for me.

The property development mystery wasn't able to hold my interest through the various computations and variations and I soon lost interest there too.

In my opinion, Silver can be read as a standalone, but readers familiar with Scrublands will receive greater enjoyment from Martin's backstory. Scrublands is a whydunnit and Silver is a series of multiple whodunnits which I'm sure will find a deserved place on the Australian crime shelves of dedicated readers.

My Rating:
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