#BookReview: Dead Man’s Creek by Chris Hammer @Wildfirebks #DeadMansCreek #damppebbles

“Newly-minted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns to her hometown, annoyed at being assigned a decades-old murder – a ‘file and forget’.

But this is no ordinary cold case, her arrival provoking an unwelcome and threatening response from the small-town community. As more bodies are discovered, and she begins to question how well she truly knows those closest to her, Nell realises that finding the truth could prove more difficult – and dangerous – than she’d ever expected.

The nearer Nell comes to uncovering the secrets of the past, the more treacherous her path becomes. Can she survive to root out the truth, and what price will she have to pay for it?

Gripping and atmospheric, Dead Man’s Creek is a stunning multi-layered thriller from Chris Hammer, the award-winning author of Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year Scrublands (2019) and Times Crime Book of the Month Opal Country (January 2022).”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Dead Man’s Creek by Chris Hammer. Dead Man’s Creek is published by Wildfire Books today (that’s Thursday 5th January 2023) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow in the Summer. I chose to read and review a free ARC of Dead Man’s Creek but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Caitlin at Wildfire Books for sending me a finished copy.

I am a huge fan of Australian crime fiction and Chris Hammer has rapidly become a favourite author of mine. So when I heard a new book was on the horizon I, of course, jumped at the chance to read it. Something you can always guarantee with a book by this author is that the story will be intelligent, beautifully plotted and gripping to the end, the setting will be vivid and by the conclusion you will believe the characters are living, breathing people. What more could a reader ask for?

Newly promoted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns with senior Detective Ivan Lucic to her hometown to investigate what appears to be a cold case. Nell finds it difficult to understand the rationale for their involvement in Tulong. They are homicide detectives after all and the bones that have been unearthed appear to be decades old. It’s hardly the exciting first case she was hoping for! However, Nell’s connection to the area and her knowledge of those that live there means she’s able to access information that otherwise wouldn’t be so forthcoming. As Nell digs into what happened to the body buried under the dam in the Murray River, startling new information comes to light about the past and present, putting Nell in increasing danger. Because for Nell Buchanan, this investigation is very close to home…

Dead Man’s Creek is a riveting and intricate crime novel that’s both beautifully plotted and totally immersive. The reader can’t help but be pulled into the book by the author’s skilful storytelling and once you’re in, there’s no way you’re going to want to leave. Everything about Dead Man’s Creek is pitched perfectly. The characters are multi-layered and fascinating from start to finish. Over the course of the two books featuring Nell Buchanan I have really warmed to her character. As said in my opening paragraph, these characters – and Nell in particular – feel very real to me. The reader really gets to know the bones of her in this novel as the story is set both in the past and the present, revolving to a large degree around the Waters/Buchanan family. Because of this there are a quite a few supporting characters to get your head around and relationships to remember. But I found I was soon able to bring to mind the relationship between characters and a brief backstory. But Nell ultimately shines through with her dogged determination to get the case solved and uncover any previous wrongdoing. No matter what the cost…

The story is set in both the past and the present and I really appreciated the information the author provides about Australia’s part in the Second World War. It was fascinating to read about the impact of conflict on the country, something I’m ashamed to say I know nothing about. The book is well paced and draws the reader in, keeping you glued to the pages (all 469 of them!). If the thought of a longer novel is something you find daunting then believe me when I say it’s well worth investing in Dead Man’s Creek. It’s a compelling, tense and immersive read which flew by in the blink of eye.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Dead Man’s Creek is a superb follow up to Opal County, Nell and Ivan Lucic’s first adventure. Dead Man’s Creek stands perfectly well on its own so there’s no need to read Opal Country first but I heartily recommend both books. Why not pick up both and really get to know Ivan and Nell? Add in the Martin Scarsden series too which starts with Scrublands. I am always impressed with how incredibly vivid the author’s settings are. They’re a living, breathing part of the storyline alongside the very lifelike characters.  Chris Hammer is a favourite author of mine for good reason. A superb sense of place, totally believable characters and a plot that won’t let you go until you’ve read the final word. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of Dead Man’s Creek. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Dead Man’s Creek by Chris Hammer was published in the UK by Wildfire Books on 5th January 2023 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shopdamppebbles bookshop.org shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

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 30 countries on six continents. In Canberra, roles included chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, current affairs correspondent for SBS TV and a senior political journalist for The Age.

His first 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 and the Manning Clark House National Cultural Award.

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.

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