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Scrublands (Martin Scarsden, #1)
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Group Read - Scrublands > Group Read - Scrublands chap 15-21 Spoilers Welcome

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Ann (annrumsey) | 14214 comments This topic is to discuss chapters 15-21 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 11, 2019 11:28PM) (new) - added it

Ann (annrumsey) | 14214 comments chapter fifteen - Suicide
Martin calls Max to complain his latest story is on page five. Max tells Martin that he is being replaced and called back to desk duty in Sydney; D'Arcy Defoe is coming out. Max can't fight it, he is out as well after seven years. Martin agonizes over his choices in Riversend and diminished choices ahead in Sydney.
Robbie calls and breaks the news that Herb Walker committed suicide, leaving a note on the bridge that he blames Martin's story. Bethany and Martin talk and Martin continues to write his feature RIVERSEND: A YEAR ON. He is headed to the press conference in Bellington which doesn't go well. He is interviewed on TV and ambushed, lashes out at the TV reporter Thunkleton. They edit the footage to make Martin look even worse.
Max calls Martin again to tell him that after the press conference and news footage, Martin is now fired.

chapter sixteen Fugitive
Jack Goffing, the ASIO man (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) brings drinks and shares info with Martin who has been pilloried on the news. Jack doesn't buy Herb Walker as a suicide. Martin asserts Herb was the opposite of suicidal and had been checking on the phone calls to and from the church before Byron Swift started shooting.
Jack reveals Byron's true identity was Julian Flynt, a soldier, a sniper, captured by the Taliban, tortured and later a war criminal after snapping and killing civilians but it was all kept quiet and he disappeared - later to turn back up in Australia.

Chapter seventeen Charged
Martin, hung over after the day drinking with Jack spends time assessing the situation. The people who want(ed) him to uncover the truth - Mandy to know about Byron, Herb Walker to reveal who was behind the official cover-up, Harley Snouch to connect with Mandy, and Jack Goffing to get some more details anonymously into the news; and Martin, Martin who wants to understand himself, the man and the reporter, who is he now.
Robbie comes and arrests Mandy, Felicity Kirby at the Black Dog tells him his room is being given to D'Arcy, please vacate it. He instead books a week on his own money. Defoe would never stay there. He has a message, from his editor - just a phone number. He calls it, out of service. He calls Max's cell and he hadn't called. ~Walker. Jack tells the charges against Mandy - attempting to pervert the course of justice. At the bail hearing, Martin steps in.

Chapter eighteen Bailed
Martin drives Jack back to Riversend. Jack wants Martin to help him talk to Mandy about her diary. Jack reveals that Harley Snouch had told the authorities about the imposter and gun fanatic ex soldier Byron Swift being in Riversend before the massacre and they had been closing in the morning of the shooting. Martin gives him the phone number he suspects was from Herb Walker.
Bailed out, Mandy and Martin go to get her son Liam from Fran Landers at the store. She said Jamie took him to the Oasis to wait for her at home. He isn't there, Martin recalling the dead cat rushes to the boarded up hotel, an empty stroller. In the struggle to rescue Liam from the murderous Jamie Mandy is ready to gut him instead.


message 3: by Ann (last edited Sep 12, 2019 12:02AM) (new) - added it

Ann (annrumsey) | 14214 comments Chapter nineteen Water Under the Bridge
Martin explains to the police why he thought of the dead cat and connected it to Jamie and the missing Liam. The berate him for not mentioning it sooner, but Martin taking the blame calms them. Jamie Landers confesses to killing the two backpackers, making the police practically euphoric. Mandy is no longer a focus. The diary? Water under the bridge.
Doug Thunkerton and D'Arcy convixct Mandy of all sorts of crimes in a TV news spot before the news leaks there is an imminent arrest of someone else. Martin gives Bethany the real scoop about Jamie for her byline alone first, then include Defoe to not embarrass him.

Chapter twenty Grave Robbers
The phone number was Avery Walker's, the hotel owner who committed suicide six months prior. They enter the triple locked and untouched apartment of the deceased. They find money, no indication of distress, a receipt for Byron Swift's headstone and a photo of Avery and Julian Flynt in Afghanistan.

Chapter twenty-one Outlaws
Jack arrives with updates from Afghanistan, Julian was treated by Army psychologist Avery Foster who backed him for ordination. The calls were from Byron to Avery, then Avery back to Byron, then the massacre. But someone from the Defense Dept switchboard called Avery, warning him the ASIO was coming after Byron. Was it Snouch or a mole. And who are the bikers, the gang of Reapers back in town.


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Ann (annrumsey) | 14214 comments Martin's introspection is very interesting as an undercurrent to the fast furious action and situations that change rapidly. The comeuppance of the two other press members (TV Doug and Martin's rival D'Arcy) who had both derided Martin for his own inaccuracies was quite satisfying.


Janice Elliott-Howard (jyhoward1066) | 62 comments I am not buying that Herb Walker committed suicide willfully. He seems to want to keep trying to uncover the true identity of Bryon Swift. Of course, being implicated as the journalist source was disheartening, but it is hardly a reason to end it all. Herb was a loose end that needed to be tied and Martin is the scapegoat. Why is Mandy surprised, Martin doesn’t believe her? Like I said before, I don’t believe a word she says. I knew Mandy was trouble from the time she mentioned she had a thing with Bryon Swift. Martin is on the hook for $15K and he can’t even question her about the missing diary pages. Everyone seems to have an angle. Oh boy, I would have never guessed that Jamie Landers was the pedophile and the killer. Mandy seems to have some survival skills of her own. Finally, somebody is confessing to something. The mystery of Bryon Swift and why Mandy tried to obscure the truth still bothers me. I bet Fran is hating Martin now. Her son's life is saved only to find out he is a sadistic monster. Yeah, she was worried about exposure in an affair. Now, she the mother of an animal. Yet another wrinkle is added to the mystery with the discovery of Avery Foster’s connection to Bryon Swift or should I say, Julian Flynt. Just when I thought I all the pieces were coming together the Reapers come to town. I am exhausted trying to follow the breadcrumbs.


message 6: by Ann (new) - added it

Ann (annrumsey) | 14214 comments Janice: I recall being surprised that Jack Goffing, the ASIO man was so open with Martin. I suppose some of the quid pro quo is revealed here when he asks for help with Mandy. It was refreshing to have the cooperation between Martin and Jack.
Lol, I feel your exhaustion following the breadcrumbs. It was a rollercoaster ride as more revelations came out. I was loving it though and fully engaged on the ride. Yes, the impact on Fran Landers from Jamie's crimes has to have been immense.
I came into this segment expecting answers, and answers were received, but the truth of what happened to make Byron Swift come out shooting remains a mystery.

Janice wrote: "Just when I thought I all the pieces were coming together the Reapers come to town. I am exhausted trying to follow the breadcrumbs.

I bet Fran is hating Martin now. Her son's life is saved only to find out he is a sadistic monster. Yeah, she was worried about exposure in an affair. Now, she the mother of an animal.

Yet another wrinkle is added to the mystery with the discovery of Avery Foster’s connection to Bryon Swift or should I say, Julian Flynt."



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