My #Review of the outstanding new novel #DeadMansCreek by #ChrisHammer @hammerNow published by @Wildfirebks on 05.01.2023

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?

First, thank you so much to Zoe at Headline for sending me the lush Proof of Dead Mans Creek.

Dead Mans Creek is the second book in Detective Nell Buchanan and Detective Sergeant Ivan Lucic series, so if you want to read them in order, The first book is Opal Country.

Upon opening the book I find a map, this always makes me excited, I’m a real sucker for maps in books, and I did indeed come back to it many times whilst reading Dead Mans Creek.

I have to say having read all of Chris Hammer’s novels I think this might just be his most accomplished and perfect crime novel. The storyline is brilliant involving present-day investigations into a skeleton being found in a reservoir where an eco-terrorist has blown up a dam, and also moving back in time throughout Dead Mans Creek to slowly give us the events that have led up to the body being found. The story is complicated and gripping, Chris Hammer has such a great way of describing his characters and making them so realistic they just jump off the page.

The setting for Dead Mans Creek is the fictional Tulong and the Millewa – Barmah Forest, and the way Chris writes the description of the Forest and its wildlife, creeks, and grassy plains is so magical, it really bought the pages to life, and you can see what a beautiful place it is in your imagination. It is a real place that Chris has visited and this tells by his writing.

The plot is intricate and involves 50 years of family history, and again this is written so so well, it’s easy to follow again to my surprise at the end of Dead Mans Creek is a family tree, which I found really helpful.

I was totally immersed in the story of Dead Mans Creek, I love Nell Buchanan’s character and Ivan Lucic, in Dead Mans Creek, we see newly promoted homicide Detective, Nell Buchanan lead the investigations in her hometown, and it gets pretty risky, in the end, she uncovers old truths that have been kept secret for so many years, and have a rippling effect on several families.

I loved Dead Mans Creek, and I loved that there are references to Martin Scarsden, and Chris Hammer’s other series of novels. I was gripped from the first page and as with every book I read by Chris Hammer, I didn’t want it to end! The ending was brilliant and I really think that this is the most perfectly written crime novel.

I will be giving Dead Mans Creek 5 stars, it’s a must-read when it’s released in January 2023.

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 was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger Award, 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 optioned for television by Easy Tiger (a FremantleMedia company). 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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