Opal Country

by Chris Hammer

Crime and Mystery Thriller and Suspense Star Books

LoveReading Expert Review of Opal Country

This LoveReading Star Book carves into the Australian outback and delivers an absolutely cracking slice of crime fiction.

A fierce and fiery beast of a crime novel, definitely one to add to the top of your reading lists. A crucified opal miner brings investigators Ivan Lucic and Nell Buchanan to outback town Finnigans Gap in Australia. I have absolutely loved the Martin Scarsden Thriller series, believe me when I say they are fabulous. Opal Country, I think, is Chris Hammer’s best yet, it’s linked to the series, yet highlights detective Ivan Lucic rather than Scarsden who is only mentioned in passing. Although this book can easily be read as a standalone, I would still recommend starting with award-winning Scrublands and working your way through, as you really don’t want to miss out. Chris Hammer has the ability to paint the most vividly vibrant picture while delving into the inner workings of his characters. The location is in essence a character, and a starring one at that. Every aspect is felt, I soaked up the smallest details as they steered me towards the difficulties of living in a ferocious land that can easily destroy the unaware. There is beauty to be found too, an admiration that encourages you to look beyond the obvious. Ivan and Nell make an interesting pairing, and I hope we see more of them. The plot circles and twists, allowing connections to form, and pieces to slide into place. With dynamic strength and a sharp edge Opal Country hammers home to become a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month. Highly recommended.

Liz Robinson

Opal Country Synopsis


In the desolate outback town of Finnigans Gap, police struggle to maintain law and order. Thieves pillage opal mines, religious fanatics recruit vulnerable youngsters and billionaires do as they please.


Then an opal miner is found crucified and left to rot down his mine. Nothing about the miner's death is straight-forward, not even who found the body. Homicide detective Ivan Lucic is sent to investigate, assisted by inexperienced young investigator Nell Buchanan.

But Finnigans Gap has already ended one police career and damaged others, and soon both officers face damning allegations and internal investigations. Have Ivan and Nell been set up, and if so, by whom?


As time runs out, their only chance at redemption is to find the killer. But the more they uncover, the more harrowing the mystery becomes, and a past long forgotten is thrown into scorching sunlight.

Because in Finnigans Gap, nothing stays buried for ever.

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781472273017
Publication date: 7th July 2022
Author: Chris Hammer
Publisher: Wildfire an imprint of Headline Publishing Group
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 512 pages
Primary Genre Crime and Mystery
Other Genres:
Be in with a Chance of Winning Our Latest Brilliant Orenda Book Bundle!

Be in with a Chance of Winning Our Latest Brilliant Orenda Book Bundle!

Closing date: 31/07/2022

We're teaming up once again with Orenda to offer another brilliant book giveaway! This book bundle will include some of their latest releases from April to July. A perfect opportunity to stock up on some brilliant reads to enjoy this summer. The titles up for grabs are: Quicksand of Memory by Michael J. Malone - Published 14th April The Shot by Sarah Sultoon - Published 28th April Keep Her Sweet by Helen Fitzgerald - Published 26th May Little Drummer by Kjell Ola Dahl - Published 26th May Nothing Else by Louise Beech - Published 23rd June Tasting Sunlight by Ewald Arenz - Published 23rd June The Daves Next Door by Will Carver - Published 21st July This draw is open only for UK residents currently in the UK and is free to enter, multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once. The draw closes on 31st July 2022. Please ensure that the details you use to enter the competition will be correct at the time the competition ends. The winners will be notified as soon as possible.

Enter Now

What To Read After Opal Country

The Heron's Cry
The Last Party

Chris Hammer Press Reviews

A complex, twisty thriller, with nuanced characters and a winding plot all set in the oppressive Australian heat. - Lisa Hall

A clever and compelling small town mystery, with an evocative setting and a brilliant cast of characters. This slice of Australian noir sparkles like an opal in the blistering sun. - Lisa Gray

Classic Hammer, with the heat and the small town obsession with secrecy and past grievances. A crime novel that will stay with me for a long time. - Ann Cleeves

Stunning ... Scrublands is that rare combination, a page-turner that stays long in the memory -- Joan Smith - Sunday Times (Crime Book of the Month)

A dark and brilliant thriller, one that lingers in the mind - Mail On Sunday

Extremely accomplished ... Deliciously noirish ... Set in the blistering heat of a remote Australian town ravaged by drought and threatened by bushfires, this is a complex, meaty, intelligent mystery ... Hammer's writing is so evocative the heat practically rises off the pages of Scrublands -- Alison Flood - Guardian 'Best Recent Thrillers'

My pick for debut thriller of the month (and maybe of 2019) ... Beautifully written, this would make a terrific small-screen series -- Bethanne Patrick - Washington Post

Well-rounded characters, masterful plotting and real breadth; this is an epic and immersive read -- Laura Wilson - Guardian

A heatwave of a novel, scorching and powerful... Extraordinary - AJ Finn

Atmospheric, utterly gripping, and written with devastating beauty. Scrublands is as scorching as wildfire and as hard to look away from -- Gytha Lodge - author of She Lies in Wait

Incendiary . . . A rattling good read, ambitious in scale and scope and delivering right up to the last, powerfully moving page -- Declan Hughes - Irish Times

Scrublands is the epic novel about rural life in Australia that we need right now ... It sits right up there with the late Peter Temple's Broken Shore, Garry Disher's Bitterwash Road and Jane Harper's The Dry, even as it extends their focus and reach ... Remarkable -- Sue Turnbull - Sydney Morning Herald

It's hard not to compare Chris Hammer's Scrublands to Jane Harper's acclaimed The Dry ... [It will] capture your imagination from the first page -- Karen Hardy - The Age

Set in the parched Australian landscape, Scrublands is a brilliantly plotted thriller which reveals a town full of brooding secrets. I couldn't put this compelling debut down -- Sarah Ward - author of The Shrouded Path

Scrublands kidnapped me for 48 hours. I was hopelessly lost in the scorching Australian landscape, disoriented but completely immersed in the town and people of Riversend, as the heat crackled off the pages. I was devastated when it was time to go back to the real world. This book is a force of nature. A must-read for all crime fiction fans - Sarah Bailey

Brilliant and unsettling, Scrublands stands at the junction of Snowtown and Wake in Fright, that place where Australia's mirage of bush tranquillity evaporates into our hidden fears - Paul Daley, writer and journalist

A superbly drawn, utterly compelling evocation of a small town riven by a shocking crime - Mark Brandi

Hammer's portrait of a dying, drought-struck town numbed by a priest's unimaginable act of violence will capture you from the first explosive page and refuse to let go until the last. His remarkable writing takes you inside lives twisted by secrets festering beneath the melting heat of the inland, the scrub beyond waiting to burst into flame. Scrublands is the read of the year. Unforgettable - Tony Wright

A compulsively page-turning thriller where the parched interior looms as large as the characters -- Katharine Murphy - Guardian Australia

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781472273017
Publication date: 07/07/2022
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781472272966
Publication date: 06/01/2022
Format: Hardback

View All Editions

About Chris Hammer

Chris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. For many years he was a roving foreign correspondent for SBS TV's flagship current affairs program Dateline. He has reported from more than thirty countries on six continents. Chris's non-fiction book, The River, published in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award. Scrublands, his first novel, was published in 2018 and won the CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger Award, as well as being shortlisted for ...

More About Chris Hammer

More Books By Chris Hammer

Opal Country
Opal Country
Opal Country
View All Books By Chris Hammer

Share this book