Author Chris Hammer Reveals the Burning Secrets Behind his New Novel, Trust

Author Chris Hammer Reveals the Burning Secrets Behind his New Novel, Trust

Briefly tell us about your new thriller Trust

Trust again features Martin Scarsden and Mandalay Blonde, the main characters from Scrublands and Trust, although it can absolutely be read as a standalone.

It starts with Mandy being kidnapped, and the discovery of the body of a man murdered five years ago, and an unconscious policeman. From there the pace picks up, as we leave the North Coast behind and venture into a grim, post-covid Sydney.

Unlike the first two books, Trust is not told exclusively from Martin’s point of view, but also from Mandy’s. The point of view alternates with the chapters, which adds pace and momentum. It also allows us to discover what Mandy is thinking as we dive down into her troubled past.

Your previous titles Scrublands and Silver are inspired by their settings. Where did the title Trust come from?

In many ways, trust is a central motif of the book: who trusts whom? Should Martin trust Mandy and should she trust him? Can they trust the police? Who is above suspicion and who isn’t? And what happens if you trust the wrong people.

So although this is a crime book, it’s also about human relations.

Your books are renowned for their tight plotting and unexpected twists. Do you plot out your novels before you begin or do you see where the story takes you?

I don’t plot out the stories first. Rather I begin with a general idea about where some of the storylines might end up. But then, as I write, elements of the plot evolve as more and (hopefully) better ideas come to me. This isn’t the most efficient way of writing, but it seems to work for me. And it’s more fun: sometimes I can’t wait to find out myself how various plot lines will resolve themselves!

How has your background in journalism helped in writing Martin and in writing the books overall?

Martin is based loosely on some of the war correspondents I encountered when I was a roving foreign correspondent for SBS. Many of them were damaged by what they had encountered, suffering from PTSD and self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.

And, of course, having been a journalist for some thirty years gives me some insight into the mentality and work practices of Australian journos on the trail of a big story.

Journalism also gives me some of the craft skills that help in writing a book. For example, when it comes to the discipline of writing, no journalist can wait around for inspiration. We just get on and do the best we can in the time we have. It also gave me lots of interesting experiences and insights into how the world works. Also, I met a lot of unusual people: the powerful and the vulnerable, the noble and the criminal. All sorts.

What do you hope readers will take away from reading Trust?

First and foremost, I hope people enjoy it, that they like the story and enjoy the writing. If they then take anything additional from it, such as reflecting on the nature of human relations, or of personal redemption, or whatever the book triggers for them, that’s a bonus. I hope they do find reading it rewarding, but I’m not about to dictate what they should or shouldn’t get from it.


Crime Fiction at its Finest: Read an Extract from Trust by Chris Hammer

Review | Extract

15 October 2020

Crime Fiction at its Finest: Read an Extract from Trust by Chris Hammer

    A Twisting Tale of Intrigue and Danger: Read Our Review of Trust by Chris Hammer

    Review | Our Review

    12 October 2020

    A Twisting Tale of Intrigue and Danger: Read Our Review of Trust by Chris Hammer

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        Publisher details

        Chris Hammer
        Allen & Unwin
        Crime Fiction
        13 October, 2020


        The gripping new Martin Scarsden novel.She breathes deeply, trying to quell the rising sense of panic. A detective came to her home, drugged her and kidnapped her. She tries to make sense of it, to imagine alternatives, but only one conclusion is possible: it's the past, come to claim her.Martin Scarsden's new life seems perfect, right up until the moment it's shattered by a voicemail: a single scream, abruptly cut off, from his partner Mandalay Blonde.Racing home, he finds an unconscious man sprawled on the floor and Mandy gone. Someone has abducted her. But who, and why?So starts a twisting tale of intrigue and danger, as Martin probes the past of the woman he loves, a woman who has buried her former life so deep she has never mentioned it.And for the first time, Mandy finds denial impossible, now the body of a mystery man has been discovered, a man whose name she doesn't know, a man she was engaged to marry when he died. It's time to face her demons once and for all; it's time she learned how to trust.Set in a Sydney riven with corruption and nepotism, privilege and power, Trust is the third riveting novel from award-winning and internationally acclaimed writer Chris Hammer.
        Chris Hammer
        About the author

        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. In Canberra, roles included chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, current affairs correspondent for SBS TV and a senior political journalist for The Age. His first 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 and the Manning Clark House National Cultural Award. Scrublands, his first novel, was published in 2018 and was shortlisted for Best Debut Fiction at the Indie Book Awards, shortlisted for Best General Fiction at the Australian Book Industry Awards, shortlisted for the UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing at the NSW Premier's Literary Awards and won the UK Crime Writers' Association John Creasey Debut Dagger Award. His second novel, Silver, was published in 2019 and was shortlisted for Best General Fiction at the Australian Book Industry Awards, shortlisted for the 2020 ABA Booksellers' Choice Book of the Year Award, and longlisted for the UK Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award. Chris has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University and a master's degree in international relations from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra with his wife, Dr Tomoko Akami. The couple have two children.

        Books by Chris Hammer


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        1. Judith Davies says:

          I enjoyed the entire trilogy Trust, Scrublands, and Silver.
          Can’t wait til the shops are open to get Treasure and Dust.