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Opal Country

The stunning page turner from the award-winning author of Scrublands

«Stunning ... Scrublands is that rare combination, a page-turner that stays long in the memory»

Joan Smith, Sunday Times (Crime Book of the Month)
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20 x 13 cm

Om forfatteren

Chris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. For many years he was a roving foreign correspondent for SBS TV's flagship current affairs program Dateline. He has reported from more than thirty countries on six continents.

Chris's non-fiction book, The River, published in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award. Scrublands, his first novel, was published in 2018 and won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, as well as being shortlisted for Best Debut Fiction at the Indie Book Awards, and Best General Fiction at the ABIA Awards. It has also been longlisted for the Ned Kelly Best Crime Novel of the Year. Scrublands was released as a TV series in 2023, distributed in the UK by BBC Four.

Chris has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University and a master's degree in international relations from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra with his wife, Dr Tomoko Akami. The couple have two children.


«Stunning ... Scrublands is that rare combination, a page-turner that stays long in the memory»

Joan Smith, Sunday Times (Crime Book of the Month)

«An almost perfect crime novel ... Intelligent, thought-provoking, great narrative energy, a central character who's imperfect but self-aware, and of course that amazing setting ... I loved it

Ann Cleeves, author of Raven Black and Wild Fire

«A dark and brilliant thriller, one that lingers in the mind»

Mail On Sunday

«Extremely accomplished ... Deliciously noirish ... Set in the blistering heat of a remote Australian town ravaged by drought and threatened by bushfires, this is a complex, meaty, intelligent mystery ... Hammer's writing is so evocative the heat practically rises off the pages of Scrublands »

Alison Flood, Guardian 'Best Recent Thrillers'

«Scrublands kidnapped me for 48 hours. I was hopelessly lost in the scorching Australian landscape, disoriented but completely immersed in the town and people of Riversend, as the heat crackled off the pages. I was devastated when it was time to go back to the real world. This book is a force of nature. A must-read for all crime fiction fans»

Sarah Bailey

«Brilliant and unsettling, Scrublands stands at the junction of Snowtown and Wake in Fright, that place where Australia's mirage of bush tranquillity evaporates into our hidden fears»

Paul Daley, writer and journalist

«A superbly drawn, utterly compelling evocation of a small town riven by a shocking crime»

Mark Brandi

«Hammer's portrait of a dying, drought-struck town numbed by a priest's unimaginable act of violence will capture you from the first explosive page and refuse to let go until the last. His remarkable writing takes you inside lives twisted by secrets festering beneath the melting heat of the inland, the scrub beyond waiting to burst into flame. Scrublands is the read of the year. Unforgettable»

Tony Wright

«A compulsively page-turning thriller where the parched interior looms as large as the characters»

Katharine Murphy, Guardian Australia

«Chris Hammer is regarded as one of Australia's best new noir crime writers, and this immersive and lyrically written thriller copper-fastens this well-deserved reputation.»

Irish Independent

«Gold standard Outback noir [...] Chris Hammer's best writing to date.»

Crime Fiction Lover

«Keeps you stuck to the story like an Outback miner's shirt to his back»

The Sun

«Nobody does Australian outback crime better. Hammer nails it again.»

Peterborough Telegraph

«Opal Country is richly rewarding. Hammer is quite brilliant.»

Shots Magazine

«A master of the crime genre»

South Africa Sunday Times

«A fast-paced and thrilling read.»

Brown Flopsy's Book Burrow

«A sharp thriller»

Woman's Own

«Classic Hammer, with the heat and the small town obsession with secrecy and past grievances. A crime novel that will stay with me for a long time.»

Ann Cleeves


A complex, twisty thriller, with nuanced characters and a winding plot all set in the oppressive Australian heat.


Lisa Hall

«A clever and compelling small town mystery, with an evocative setting and a brilliant cast of characters. This slice of Australian noir sparkles like an opal in the blistering sun.»

Lisa Gray

«Opal Country is a top-notch Aussie Noir with real heat coming off the pages.»

Christopher Fowler

«A brilliantly atmospheric mystery.»


«This novel - tighter, tougher, tenser - is Hammer's best work yet.»

The Times

«My pick for debut thriller of the month (and maybe of 2019) ... Beautifully written, this would make a terrific small-screen series»

Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post

«Well-rounded characters, masterful plotting and real breadth; this is an epic and immersive read»

Laura Wilson, Guardian

«A heatwave of a novel, scorching and powerful... Extraordinary»

AJ Finn

«Atmospheric, utterly gripping, and written with devastating beauty. Scrublands is as scorching as wildfire and as hard to look away from»

Gytha Lodge, author of She Lies in Wait

«Incendiary . . . A rattling good read, ambitious in scale and scope and delivering right up to the last, powerfully moving page»

Declan Hughes, Irish Times

«Scrublands is the epic novel about rural life in Australia that we need right now ... It sits right up there with the late Peter Temple's Broken Shore, Garry Disher's Bitterwash Road and Jane Harper's The Dry, even as it extends their focus and reach ... Remarkable»

Sue Turnbull, Sydney Morning Herald

«It's hard not to compare Chris Hammer's Scrublands to Jane Harper's acclaimed The Dry ... [It will] capture your imagination from the first page»

Karen Hardy, The Age

«Set in the parched Australian landscape, Scrublands is a brilliantly plotted thriller which reveals a town full of brooding secrets. I couldn't put this compelling debut down»

Sarah Ward, author of The Shrouded Path

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