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Skin Deep

(Harry Hendrick #1)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  71 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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3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  238 ratings  ·  71 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.
May 17, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’m always looking for new horror books to dive into, and Gary Kemble’s Strange Ink grabbed me the moment I stumbled upon it in the library. A horror story surrounding mysterious tattoos sounded like the kind of thing I would adore.

In truth, I had rather mixed feelings towards this one. It wasn’t the horror I thought it would be, but it was an addictive read. I was constantly curious to see how things came together and was happy to keep turning the pages to witness how the events would play out.
Craig Sisterson
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, australia
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
The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew).
As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress...

Harry Hendrick is a reporter working for the Chermside Chronicle, a local weekly newspaper in Brisbane, Australia. When he was studying journalism at university Harry found a story involving corruption and the local land developers that would have been huge and that would have seen him upon graduation working for one of the large and respected newspapers. It would have been ‘the‘ st
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.
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
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
Cassandra MADEUP BookBlog
Certainly an interesting read!!

The cover and title intrigued me instantly, especially with the sprayed edges. I figured, it looked like the perfect October read!

I wasn’t disappointed.

I loved the Characters, their individuality and the way they related to one another throughout the story. The progression of the relationships and the twists involved with them were well though out, and unlike with some Crime stories, it didn’t feel the relationships were forced in order to give a parallel storyline
DNF at Page 135.

This book is advertised as a spine chilling horror and unfortunately it didn’t deliver.

Harry Hendrick is a 36 year old “down on his luck” character. His six year relationship has ended (much to his dismay) and he’s living out of boxes and working at the Chronicle ... still. He awakes from a nightmare to find a strange Ink on the back of his neck and starts to investigate how he got it. The strange happenings repeat and the nightmares when shared grip you.

The good things about t
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.

Dallas Kitchens
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Im about half way thru here, and its a creepy, vibey, classic horror ghost story, would you like to know more. Well come back when im done. Thats all i have to say about that. Its hard to peg this book down, 1 hand its good, 1 hand long and drawn out. Its like reading a very strange agatha christie, or watching a weird version of murder she wrote. 3.5 stars
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.
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Suzy Michael
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
Gary Kembles debut novel is set in the over heated town of Brisbane, Australia and follows the harrowing journey of a man haunted to right the wrongs of the past.
Down and out journalist Harry Hendrick wakes up after a night of partying, with a serious hangover and a new tattoo he does not remember getting. Soon, he begins to have horrific nightmares that seem to link to his new tattoo. Quickly, more tattoos start to show up on Harry's body, bringing even more nightmares. He begins to suspect the
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
Review + an extract over on my blog!

This is said to be horror, in my opinion, it isn’t really horror. I’d call it more of a mystery/thriller with a hint of magic realism.
The plot was interesting and intriguing – it did hold my interest but it wasn’t super gripping. However, I did really want to see how the story played out, there were a few parts where I did find it a bit slow.
Being a mystery kind of story and watching the plot slowly unfold, I think it’s
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
Oct 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the cover of this book and that's what initially drew me in and then I read the description and thought it would be a book I would enjoy.

Unfortunately it wasn't for me, I loved the premise of the plot but I found it slow burning and it took me ages to read the book. There were parts I enjoyed and there were parts I felt dragged out a bit.

I did like the main character Harry and I liked the progression of his character.

I did like the authors writing style and I would recommend people to rea
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.
This is a fast read with a really great story concept. The pace of the story was just right and there was just enough action to keep things really interesting. Not scarey in the traditional ghost story or zombie epic but the concept was a rather horrific one. This will likely not scratch your itch if you are looking for a true horror and could be enjoyed as a urban fantasy read as well.
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!
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.
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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)