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Scrublands (Martin Scarsden, #1)
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Group Read - Scrublands > Group Read Scrublands - final comments Spoilers Welcome

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Ann (annrumsey) | 14410 comments I finished the book today. I am glad I am rereading as i go to add summaries to the chapter segment threads as it ended on a wild ride of details and revelations. I enjoyed the narration, the Australian accent and character voices of narrator Rupert Degas added to my enjoyment.
The author, Chris Hammer mentioned in closing that he got the idea for this, his debut novel, while researching one of his non-fiction books. The setting of the scrublands is real, the town of Riversend, characters and events are all fictional. What a place to live, especially in a deep drought on top of the heat.


Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7900 comments Ann wrote: "The author, Chris Hammer mentioned in closing that he got the idea for this, his debut novel, while researching one of his non-fiction books. The setting of the scrublands is real, the town of Riversend, characters and events are all fictional. What a place to live, especially in a deep drought on top of the heat.."

I found that interesting too. I also enjoyed the look inside the mind of a journalist. I wasn't sure I liked Martin because he seemed to frequently put the story first over the needs of the townspeople he was starting to become friends with (or more). But I guess that singlemindedness also came in handy when putting together the puzzle of the crime.


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Ann (annrumsey) | 14410 comments Carol: I find journalists fascinating. The mindset to do what they do in pursuit of a story - often over the needs of others, and sometimes obfuscating the truth by withholding evidence in investigations takes a specific type of mindset. (A mindset I don't always under stand.) The more books I read about journalists, the more I do at least appreciate their perspective.
It is interesting that this came up in Lady in the Lake too.

Carol/Bonadie wrote: " I also enjoyed the look inside the mind of a journalist. I wasn't sure I liked Martin because he seemed to frequently put the story first over the needs of the townspeople he was starting to become friends with (or more). But I guess that singlemindedness also came in handy when putting together the puzzle of the crime..."


Barbara K | 414 comments Just finished, and I am SO glad to have read it! If I take a step back now, the characters and setting seem somewhat unreal, but in the context of the book they held together well. I appreciated Hammer's comments about how the idea for the book came to him while he was researching a book about an actual drought in 2008 - I can see the kernel of that forming. In extreme conditions, how much would it take to trigger unthinkable actions? With a plot as multi-textured as this there were lots of opportunities to explore different themes - PTSD, spousal abuse, water rights, making a living in an inhospitable location, and of course, journalistic ethics.

I'd have to say that I enjoyed Martin's struggles to come to terms with his inner need to dig out and expose the truth, balanced with his new sensitivity to the reality of the persons in his stories more than I did the very tidy wrap-up in the last few pages/listening minutes. Oddly, as unbelievable as it was to have so many different plot elements come together in one place and time, for me it was even more improbable that the loose ends would be tied up so neatly for Martin and Mandalay and all the other surviving characters, with the prospect of everyone living happily ever after. But a small criticism for what I otherwise found to be a thoroughly enjoyable book.


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Ann (annrumsey) | 14410 comments Barbara: I have found this book hard to forget! I also thought it was skillfully written to hold the various threads together so well. Martin's introspection and personal growth was a bonus underpinning the story with a thoughtful depth. In a way I think that tone led me to think of the priest's motive for the shooting in a more benign light at first and to question almost every character. That also added to the experience with all of the questions to puzzle over.
Agreed - the tidy cleanup at the end didn't match the mysteries of the body of the book but for me as well, that couldn't diminish the positive atmospheric experience.
And there were some questions left to ponder. Without the drug money, the town was left in trouble, one rain doesn't necessarily end a drought, and the townspeople took quite a hit with all of the death and betrayal. Martin had questioned whether the Landers' store would ever reopen and the impact on the town is left to our imagination. A very good book!

Barbara wrote: "Just finished, and I am SO glad to have read it! If I take a step back now, the characters and setting seem somewhat unreal, but in the context of the book they held together well. I appreciated Hammer's comments about how the idea for the book ...
I'd have to say that I enjoyed Martin's struggles to come to terms with his inner need to dig out and expose the truth, balanced with his new sensitivity to the reality of the persons in his stories more than I did the very tidy wrap-up in the last few pages/listening minutes.

Oddly, as unbelievable as it was to have so many different plot elements come together in one place and time, for me it was even more improbable that the loose ends would be tied up so neatly for Martin and Mandalay and all the other surviving characters, with the prospect of everyone living happily ever after. But a small criticism for what I otherwise found to be a thoroughly enjoyable book



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Lady in the Lake (other topics)

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Chris Hammer (other topics)