Mystery/Thriller Reading Friends discussion

Scrublands (Martin Scarsden, #1)
This topic is about Scrublands
24 views
Group Read - Scrublands > Group Read - Scrublands chap 8-14 Spoilers Welcome

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Ann (new) - added it

Ann (annrumsey) | 14202 comments This topic is to discuss chapters 8-14 of Scrublands by Chris Hammer. *Spoilers welcome*
If the first to post, please briefly summarize to guide the discussion.


message 2: by Ann (last edited Sep 10, 2019 09:43PM) (new) - added it

Ann (annrumsey) | 14202 comments Chapter eight - Stalker
Martin considers the angle of his story, he sleeps with Mandy, drives out to Springfield to see Harley Snouch amid the fire blackened ruins, only steel, stone or brick remaining of the house built in the 1880's. Harley says Mandy is not his daughter and he has no idea why Byron Swift told Robbie he knew it all. He's not 'stalking' Mandy, she's the image of her mother.

Chapter nine - Bellington
the next town, Martin drives over to see the police sergeant, Herb Walker that had approved his interview with Constable Robbie Haus-Jones. He first visits victim Horace Grosvenor's wife. She describes her loving husband as a member of the Bellington Anglers Club, a man who enjoyed hunting with the other victims of Byron Swift's gun.
The interview with Herb Walker is off the record and not recorded. He reveals that Byron Swift was an imposter, the real Byron died in Cambodia at 24 of an overdose. There will be no official inquiry to that line, someone up the food chain has been protecting him. Herb Walker had told Craig Landers and Alf Newkirk about the accusations against the priest.
Martin visits Jamie Landers at the hospital and he angrily denies the priest ever abused anyone. Martin finds Byron Swift's grave with the epitaph Known unto God and a fresh flower bouquet.
It has been exactly a year since Byron Swift shot five people and a year to the day since Martin climbed into the car trunk in Gaza.


message 3: by Ann (last edited Sep 10, 2019 09:56PM) (new) - added it

Ann (annrumsey) | 14202 comments chapter ten - Murder
They've arrested Harley Snouch for murder, two bodies were found in the dam next to his burned out house. Martin, in touch with his editor is starting to file his stories. he is inspired and "on a tear" with speculations and accusations, scoops from all he has gathered over the last few days. he is back. Mandy is not pleased. The flowers on the grave a clue, Martin pushes Fran Landers to admit she was having an affair with Byron Swift.

Chapter eleven Newsbreakers
Funeral for the car accident victim, no media allowed, even Martin. They are letting Harley Snouch go and many of the 'facts' Martin used in his story are falling apart. He has a sick feeling in his gut. Martin gets more details from Fran about the day of the massacre. The hunters were planning an killing Byron after what they were told about him by Robbie. She had run to warn the priest. Martin has a new angle to write in his next story. he speaks to Luke again who saw it all from up on a hill overlooking the church. There was an unknown woman in the church during the shooting.
Even more details Martin had stated as facts are now disproved. Harley Snouch himself called authorities about the bodies he found in his dam. Herb Walk is still happy to talk to Martin off the record and drive the story.


message 4: by Ann (last edited Sep 10, 2019 10:26PM) (new) - added it

Ann (annrumsey) | 14202 comments Chapter twelve An Allegorical Tale
Martin wonders of the motivations behind his sources; especially the two police officers' sharing of information with him. The outside secret agency officer Goffing is a mystery - why is he there? Fran is livid at Martin over his last story, but he didn't write it, his byline is right there along with Bethany Glass back in Sydney and thoroughly burning source Herb Walker with accusations of negligence a year ago.
Mandy tells Martin that she can prove with her testimony backed up with her diary that Byron Swift had nothing to do with the abduction and murder of the two hitchhikers, he was with her and is Liam's father.
Bethany Glass lets Martin know that Harley Snouch was never in prison or charged with the rape of Mandy's mother Katherine.
Martin has a change of heart, his focus is not on getting the spashiest story, the biggest scoops; it's become about finding out why.

Chapter thirteen The Hotel
Martin is drawn to the war monument with the WWI soldier statue in the middle of the town, as he takes photos for his story he spots someone on the veranda of the long closed hotel; investigating he finds someone has been living there and a dead cat, nailed to the floor is a gruesome and smelly sight in one of the rooms.
Martin attempts to talk to a contemptuous Herb Walker and he reports the information Mandy told him about Byron Swift's alibi and Mandy's diary. Herb agrees to look into phone calls Byron Swift made for significance and Codger tells Martin someone had been killing his cows before the massacre and the hotel owner committed suicide.

Chapter fourteen Blood Moon
Martin files another story and talks with Max about the inaccuracies in his last few pieces. Jamie Landers tells Martin that Allen Newkirk had been out hunting with his dad and the men in the club the day before the massacre. he asserts again that no way was Byron Swift molesting anyone. He was who Martin saw in the hotel and it was Allen, majorly messed up after the massacre who killed the cat. He meets Snouch again in the "wine bar" abandoned behind the shops. Snouch blackmails him into asking Mandy to get a DNA sample to prove he isn't her father - he wants to reconcile with her and he threatens to sue Martin for the libel in his stories about prison and his being a murderer.
Snouch admits that Katherine did accuse him of rape and his father was able to get all of the details squelched. He loved her deeply but she got pregnant and the timing wasn't right for it to be his. He reacted badly. Byron Swift also knew, he was a priest.


message 5: by Ann (last edited Sep 10, 2019 10:30PM) (new) - added it

Ann (annrumsey) | 14202 comments These are action packed chapters! the clues, the dead ends, the red herrings just keep piling up and I love it! The summaries have been fun to do. I will start chapter 15 tomorrow. I wanted to keep my impressions cleanly on this segment before moving on. It was hard not to read on today though. What pain this town has seen, the secrets that apparently are still being kept and the strange actions of the police force then and now are more than just small town cops inexperienced in solving murders.
The characters, even the secondary ones are so compelling.


message 6: by Carol/Bonadie (last edited Sep 19, 2019 09:37PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7784 comments Ann, thank you for doing all these summaries. I've finished the book and there were a couple of characters I could never keep straight while listening, and reading these is helping solidify the story in my mind. So many details! This section really gallops along.

The priest is turning out to be quite the contradiction! charismatic, moody, a sort of Pied Piper of the teens who adore him, a loner, a hunter, a ladies' man, a man's man. And none of those improbable characteristics help us understand why he shot down 5 people in cold blood.


message 7: by Ann (new) - added it

Ann (annrumsey) | 14202 comments Carol: The book did really gallop along! The mystery of the priest's actions and how he interacted was quite diverse as pictured by all of the different townspeople. :)

I listened on audio and luckily had a Kindle library loan too so was able to fill in the character spaces as I summarized. I was getting a bit confused while listening about the parentage questions and other details.

Carol/Bonadie wrote: " I've finished the book and there were a couple of characters I could never keep straight while listening, and reading these is helping solidify the story in my mind. So many details! This section really gallops along.

The priest is turning out to be quite the contradiction! charismatic, moody, a sort of Pied Piper of the teens who adore him, a loner, a hunter, a ladies' man, a man's man. And none of those improbable characteristics help us understand why he shot down 5 people in cold blood. "



Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7784 comments Ann wrote: "
I listened on audio and luckily had a Kindle library loan too so was able to fill in the character spaces as I summarized. I was getting a bit confused while listening about the parentage questions and other details. ..."


Ann, I'm getting so I prefer listening over reading to books that take place in other countries. The accents are part of my enjoyment of the book. Doesn't leave much time for reading print versions! But I agree having it in print is essential when summarizing chapters, which again am grateful to you for!


message 9: by Ann (new) - added it

Ann (annrumsey) | 14202 comments Carol Yes! And I love an Australian accent!


Janice Elliott-Howard (jyhoward1066) | 62 comments The hero gets the prize. Martin seems just as surprised as I do that he and Mandy have become a thing. If Harley is not her biological father then why is he so taken with Mandy? I get that he always fancied her mother, but something is missing in this scenario. It seems to me that Harley Snouch is protecting the reputation of Katie Blonde even though she doesn’t deserve it. Swift not being Swift is a twist as the plot thickens. Walker sets this whole massacre in motion by forewarning Landers after receiving the anonymous telephone and taking Swift into custody. What I don’t get, small-town living as it were, how did Walker not know the tipsters? I mean small-town living is where everybody knows your name. At this point, I am doubly confused Fran Landers had an affair with the man who killed her husband. Could that have been Bryon’s real motivation to execute Craig? Bryon is Mandy’s baby daddy. The new discovery of corpses has Harley Snouch in the fray, but it’s not him. Then, of course, it has to be Bryon, but Mandy alibis her baby daddy. I can’t believe anything Mandy’s has to say. Like mother, like daughter, to save face, she concocts a story about the lineage of her child. This is becoming a menagerie of incidents that don’t add up to much. I don’t think Martin Scarsden can handle it all.


message 11: by Ann (new) - added it

Ann (annrumsey) | 14202 comments Janice: I love your comment that it is becoming "a menagerie of incidents that don't add up to much".
The potential explanations from the first set of chapters are being blown up right and left. Can Martin handle it all is a very good question along with wondering what Harley is after and what additional secrets Mandy is holding.
I found the understory of Martin dealing with the past and his current rolller coaster ride status of hero or goat as his stories are published fascinating.
Janice wrote: "The hero gets the prize. Martin seems just as surprised as I do that he and Mandy have become a thing. If Harley is not her biological father then why is he so taken with Mandy?
.... This is becoming a menagerie of incidents that don’t add up to much. I don’t think Martin Scarsden can handle it all.."



Sandi (sandin954) | 1181 comments Janice wrote: "This is becoming a menagerie of incidents that don’t add up to much. I don’t think Martin Scarsden can handle it all."

Great observations. While I am enjoying the story so far, I wonder how all the strands will fit together and have my doubts that Martin will be able to figure out what actually happened.


message 13: by Ann (new) - added it

Ann (annrumsey) | 14202 comments Sandi: there are a lot of strands to this story, and they seemed to be unraveling at this point!


back to top

unread topics | mark unread


Books mentioned in this topic

Scrublands (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Chris Hammer (other topics)