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Skin Deep

(Harry Hendrick #1)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  100 ratings  ·  34 reviews
When washed up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out.

When more tattoos appear — accompanied by visions of war-torn Afghanistan, bikies, boat people, murder, bar fights and a mysterious woman — he begins to dig a little deeper.

Harry’s search leads him to Jess McGrath. She’s successful,
Paperback, 346 pages
Published July 1st 2015 by Echo Publishing
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Gary Kemble Hi there. Yes, it's true! You can see what happens to Harry next in Bad Blood: I'm currently working on books…moreHi there. Yes, it's true! You can see what happens to Harry next in Bad Blood: I'm currently working on books 3 and 4 in the series.(less)
Gary Kemble Hi Jill. Thanks for the question. Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. Skin Deep contains coarse language and some quite graphic violence,…moreHi Jill. Thanks for the question. Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. Skin Deep contains coarse language and some quite graphic violence, so it wouldn't be suitable for junior high schoolers. Seniors maybe but I'm not sure where high schools draw the line. Keen for any views of others who have read it.(less)

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3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  100 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
This book kept me reading till 4am this morning! What a page turner!

My View:
If you want a book that will keep you reading till 4am then this book is for you! This reader was exhausted but satisfied when the last page was turned.

Frenetically paced, tension packed, great characters with a narrative that manages to encompass so much – corruption, politics - internal and external, war, asylum, greed, relationships, work…I could go on…an all woven so deftly into this incredible tale of justice and re
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Skin Deep is the first book in the Harry Hendrick series by British-born author, Gary Kemble. Harry Hendrick is a journalist for a small time local Brisbane newspaper, The Chermside Chronicle. Stories on traffic black spots, Meals on Wheels, and Chermside Bowls Club are his bread and butter. He’s feeling very fragile over the split, after six years living together, from his girlfriend, Bec, and has moved into a long-vacant house on Croydon Street.

When he wakes one Saturday morning, extremely hu
Alan Baxter
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent debut novel from Gary Kemble. The story is tight, fast-paced and exciting, the characters three-dimensional and believable, and the researched details utterly authentic. A powerful supernatural crime/political thriller. Highly recommended.
Craig Sisterson
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australia, crime
Australian debutant Kemble blends dark mystery with a touch of the paranormal in this highly original and engaging read, which was shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award.

Jaded journalist Harry Hendrick was once a rising star, but his career was derailed and is now circling the drain in Brisbane. He’s meandering through life, a shell of his former self, and one morning he wakes from a hangover after a friend’s stag do with a strange symbol tattooed on his neck. He writes it off as a stupid drunken c
Karen Brooks
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. The debut novel, Skin Deep, by award-winning short story writer, Gary Kemble, published by Echo Publishing (who kindly sent me a review copy – thank you very much) is a ripper of a read. Not being familiar with Kemble’s work, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially when the promotional blurb announced the novel was cross-genre. I have had mixed experiences with cross-genre novels (no pun intended) so worried I might be a little disappointed, especially as the blurb set my expectation ...more
Loved the Brisbane setting, with such familiar suburbs and shopping centres and so on, and the idea had merit, but it went a bit too far down the rabbit hole for me and became too weird. Add to that the frequent swearing, and it wasn’t really my cup of tea.

Currently, the lasting effect of this book on me, is that now, as I drive around Brisbane, I notice more tattoo parlours!!

Nat K
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book! Great to read something by an Aussie writer. I liked the twists and turns of the relationship between life weary journo Harry Hendrick and SAS soldier Rob, whose life appears to Harry via flashbacks, nightmares and the mysterious appearance of tattoos, which all tell the story of a grim cover-up, and corruption in high places.
Jennifer (JC-S)
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: librarybooks
‘This will only end when justice has been done.’

Harry Hendrick is a journalist in Brisbane. His career hasn’t quite followed the path he intended, damaged by a story he was following on corruption while he was still at university. Harry’s a good bloke, popular with his mates and easy to get along with. But he’s been unlucky in love, and has just broken up with his girlfriend and moved to a newly rented home. Not long after the move, Harry attends his mate Dave’s buck night. He wakes up with a ha
Mel Campbell
This was a strangely compelling and original genre mash-up. I've never read anything quite like it and I found myself compulsively turning pages to unravel the mystery. It takes place in the kind of Joh-bruised Brisbane familiar to readers of Andrew McGahan – it reminded me strongly of Last Drinks in its vivid descriptions of oppressive heat and humidity, its jaded protagonist and the bleariness of booze, and also in its suggestion that this weather and this corruption are somehow magically sy ...more
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it

A paranormal crime thriller with a blokey sensibility, Skin Deep is set in a Brisbane still dealing with the after-effects of many years of Joh rule.

Cath Ferla
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
this was such a great, surprising read. i loved the central protagonist and was hypnotised by the strong sense of place (Brisbane) throughout the story. as a lover of paranormal twists and turns, this story pushed all my buttons and kept me wanting more. a true page tuner.

Disclosure: my novel, Ghost Girls, will also be published by Echo Publishing.

Gregory Totman
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Debut book, from Brisbane author , didn't think I would enjoy ghost like themes yet it's a gripping and suspenseful read .
Paula Weston
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolute cracker of a read. The pace and characters are perfectly pitched, and the violence dark, gritty and believable. I particularly enjoyed the Brisbane settings, and, as a someone who was a suburban journo in Brisbane through the 90s, I can totally relate to much of Harry's day-to-day professional life. This is a brilliantly crafted and tightly-written thriller that I inhaled. Highly recommended adult thriller.
Kyla Ward
Jul 21, 2015 rated it liked it
"But then after the war... ah, I dunno, war just teaches you the real meaning of fear."

Harry Hendricks is a journalist who has never been near a war. The closest he's come was when his expose of corruption in Brisbane city was sabotaged, leaving his career in tatters. But he's getting an education all the same and his own skin is the whiteboard. In this thoroughly contemporary ghost story, you can forget about haunted houses: as Harry soon realises, he's contending with a haunted body.

"Harry m
Matt Eaton
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Never has the questionable art of injecting ink into one's skin been imbued with so much ominous meaning.

If, like me, you're no fan of tattoos this book is definitely not going to persuade you otherwise, but then that's not what this story is about.

Gary Kemble has come up with an intriguing paranormal crime thriller, the ramifications of which stretch across the world and way back into human history.

The suspense takes a while to build (and the protagonist seems an unlikely member of Gen X given
Emily Craven
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ended up really enjoying this book. I picked it up initially for the intriguing premise: tattoos just appearing on your back in the middle of the night? Super fricken creepy right? I have to say the first 3rd of the book though was SLOW, really slow, and when you think you've picked up a thriller it's a bit unexpected. But definitely persevere with it because the ending pays off in full, the pace is quick, each high and low bigger than the last, and the plot takes many enjoyable twists and turns ...more
Andrew Ross
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Even without the Stephen King references in this book I would have picked up that the author was a fan. Being a debut book you could almost hope that Gary Kemble goes on to become the Aussie Stephen King because he has potential. Skin Deep is a mixture of different genres; horror, crime, political and thriller. Each genre is interwoven into the next quite well and the mesh is a deeply engaging and adrenaline fuelled adventure over the course of three hundred pages. Quintessentially Australian, t ...more
David Beutel
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was tough to read for a couple reasons. Foremost for its excellent and sometimes graphic descriptions of the protagonist's plight as he wakes from intense dreams to find he is more directly involved with their subjects than he wants to be. This mystery is compelling, and keeps you hooked. The other reason is that it made me weirdly nostalgic for the sticky humidity of its setting, Brisbane, which helps adds to the already heavy atmosphere of the story. Great debut.
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A pacey, tightly plotted debut novel which will please fans of thrillers, the supernatural, and those in between. The heat and humidity of Brisbane in summer makes an oppressive backdrop to a tale of murder, corruption and possession, but you don't have to know Brisbane first hand to appreciate Kemble's craft here. Recommended.
Dec 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great first novel, comparable to Joe Hill's "Heart shaped Box" - unique story & characters & a cool edgy ride, loved it! Not perfect but better than most in the genre at the moment - & not 800pages long just for the sake of it! Sharp & taut, Kembles short-story writing past had helped him hone his craft - an exciting voice!
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow! What an absolute page-turner; this book will grab you and won't let you go. It's fast paced, thrilling & completely believable as you stretch your imagination to accept what is happening to this ordinary guy. Great Aussie fiction and a debut novel as well.
Sue Kjellgren
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this! Was recommended to me and I admit to being a bit dubious as it took me a little while to get in to it. There came that point though when nothing was going to make me put it down....excellent! Look forward to reading more from this author.
Lee Anderson  drunk_on_bookz
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Amazed that this is a debut book for Gary Kemble. such a fast paced, action packed thriller & I couldn't wait to turn the page to see what was going to happen next. A great mix of supernatural, thriller, crime & pollitics
Mark Smith-briggs
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
An impressive journalist noir with a supernatural bent, the novel comes to life with well rounded characters and an engaging, page-turning mystery. A great debut.
Emma Crameri
Aug 07, 2015 rated it liked it
I loved reading about my hometown (Brisbane).
You can always tell a first time author...they are bursting with ideas while wrestling with the flow of the story. By chapter three I had Stange Ink pegged as a horror story...and then it wasn't. Then I had it pegged as a ghost story, then a ghost possession story, then maybe a straight thriller? Half way through I quit trying to shove Mr Kemble into my preconceived notions and just went with the flow of the story and thoroughly enjoyed it.

No spoilers here, but the tale takes place in Brisbane,
Pamela Scott

(copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed)

This is my first time reading the author. I loved the title and the blurb delighted me so I couldn’t wait to read this. I was not disappointed. I love horror fiction especially when an author tries to do something fresh rather than the same-old-same-old tropes. Strange Ink ticks all the boxes. I did not want this book to end. I loved the frantic pacing of the book, the ups and downs and the twists and turns
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
The book started slow and was a little odd to begin with, taking on a supernatural edge, when I thought I was reading a crime book. The last half is where the story really becomes interesting. It's worth persisting until the end and I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
Enjoyed reading this!
Rachel Sanderson
Part haunting, part political-thriller, Skin Deep is a fast-paced, gritty, and sometimes bloody story of vengeance.
Harry Hendrick is a reporter for a local Brisbane newspaper. His girlfriend has recently left him, he’s been in the same job way too long, he's feeling lost and a little sorry for himself when his life begins to spiral out of control. He begins waking up with tattoos, and with no memory of how he got them. With the tattoos come the nightmares and memories of another man, a former S
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Gary Kemble has spent his life telling stories. He wrote, illustrated and self-published his first story (Back from the Grave) aged eight. His debut novel Strange Ink (aka Skin Deep in Australia/NZ) is due out in the US and UK in October 2018. You can follow him on Facebook (@garykembleauthor).

Other books in the series

Harry Hendrick (2 books)
  • Bad Blood (Harry Hendrick #2)