Your Preview Verdict: Treasure and Dirt by Chris Hammer

Your Preview Verdict: Treasure and Dirt by Chris Hammer

An unputdownable standalone thriller from the bestselling author of Scrublands.

In the desolate outback town of Finnigans Gap, police struggle to maintain law and order. Thieves pillage opal mines, religious fanatics recruit vulnerable young people 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 straightforward, not even who found the body. Sydney 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 secrets they uncover, the more harrowing the mystery becomes, as events from years ago take on a startling new significance.

For in Finnigans Gap, opals, bodies and secrets don’t stay buried forever.

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

Treasure and Dirt, more treasure than dirt! Well written and absolutely hard to put down. Chris Hammer is one of my favourite Australian authors who truly did not disappoint with his new thriller about a murder in a small mining town. What I love about this book is that I could picture every scene with great detail, due to the way he paints with his words. Jessica, QLD, 5 Stars

A gritty murder mystery with twists and turns that give you whiplash. The writing is detailed to the point where you feel the heat and dust, you’re almost swatting at the flies while you read. This fabulous novel is one of those books that you just want to go on forever. Absolutely a must read for fans of Australian outback crime. Michelle, NSW, 5 Stars

This book had me reading from cover to cover in a matter of days. Set in a fictional small town near Lightning Ridge on the New South Wales-Queensland border, the hunt for a murderer leads two detectives through a series of town mysteries and coverups in the search for the truth. With no stone left unturned, Sydney homicide detective Ivan Lucic and young investigator Nell Buchanan piece together a crime linked to big business, political coverups, fringe cults and the age old motive, revenge. This is a gripping tale, full of brilliant characters and wonderful description which place you right at the scene of the crime. Definitely a novel not to be missed. Karina, QLD, 5 Stars

Chris Hammer (author of Scrublands, Silver and Trust) is back with a standalone thriller; relentless action and relentless heat from page one. Finnigans Gap isn’t an outback town on the tourist trail. It’s going under. Or is it? The opal miners steal from each other; just out of town there is a band of religious fanatics recruiting the vulnerable; and there’s a flourishing global mine corporation encouraging the miners to abandon their leases for regular wages. When one of their own is found murdered at the bottom of his shaft, it’s the catalyst that fractures long-standing loyalties, families and the town’s future. The miner’s death has townsfolk, as well as the police, asking awkward questions. Within hours of the discovery of the murder, homicide detective Ivan Lucic lands from Sydney, with crime scene specialists. Not only did his boss not travel with him, Ivan finds his assistant is an inexperienced young local police investigator, Nell Buchanan. Within days, both officers have drawn the ire and attention of police internal affairs. Have they been set up? If so, why and by whom? The more the detectives dig into the murder, the more secrets from the past come to light. Barb, VIC, 5 Stars

Fans of Mystery Road will love this new novel from Chris Hammer. It’s not just treasure lying beneath the surface of Finnigan’s Gap, an opal mining town in far western NSW, but secrets that go back many years. When Jonas McGee is found crucified and left to rot at the bottom of his own mine, Sydney homicide detective Ivan Lucic teams up with Nell Buchanan, an inexperienced investigator from Bourke. Both face resistance residents including other police officers, questions of corruption and collusion, money, politics, religion and family feuds. Could they have been set up? Treasure & Dirt has many twists and turns, assumptions and misunderstandings, bad blood and family secrets. It is a well-paced thriller spanning a week as Ivan, Nell and their colleagues dig beneath the surface of this town. This remote outback town has drawn many different people to it over the years including businessmen, religious fanatics, veterans, drug dealers and others who don’t take kindly to outsiders. Despite attempts to keep them from uncovering the truth and facing their own demons, Ivan and Nell never give up. Sarah, NSW, 5 Stars

What a gripping story, a page turner that blindsides you at the end when you least expect it! An interesting read on police corruption, mining magnates and those caught in the cross hairs! Thank you Better Reading for giving me the opportunity to read Treasure & Dirt. I thoroughly loved reading this thriller. Amazing characters, with back stories to unpack add such depth to the already packed story line. The weaves and folds of the story take you from calm and understanding to fired up and cheering on the underdogs! The Australian mining landscape is so well captured leaving no doubt in your mind as to how bloody hot and horrid it is out there working the claims. A truly great Aussie story! Jodi, QLD, 5 Stars

This is only my second Chris Hammer book and I’m already a big fan. I love the way that he sets such descriptive vivid scenes throughout his books, so brilliant and clever. This story is set in a blisteringly hot, dry, dusty outback mining town in Australia, the depictions of all the sights and sounds are so tangible you will feel you are there witnessing the story unfold! It starts with a dark and gruesome murder; nothing is straightforward or obvious. The twists and turns begin immediately and continue throughout this engrossing story. This thriller was hard to put down, the characters were all brilliantly written with great depth to each and every one. We follow two main characters; the detective’s Nell and Ivan, who are smart, tough and likeable (even with their flaws). I love that we explore their individual stories. I found myself quite early into the book eagerly hoping they would catch their killer/s. This is a standalone story and so you don’t have to have read Chris Hammer’s other books before reading this one, although I’m sure you will want to read all his others after this! Great read an excellent thriller. Debra, NSW, 5 Stars

Chris Hammer does it again. Using knowledge of the small outback communities of Australia, he draws the reader in to this investigation. I was captured by Ivan and Nell and the intricacies of the little mining town of Finnigans Gap. Loved it right to the end!! Kerrie, VIC, 5 Stars

I would highly recommend this novel for any book enthusiast who loves a good detective read. This novel was set in the fictional opal mines of NSW, where two detectives; one up-and-coming and one local, who have been assigned to investigate a gruesome murder. Together they examine all possible angles of this homicide and find out what truly goes on in a local town filled with underlying ‘dirt’. The lucrative business of the mining industry, the scandalous and desperate measures people go to find ‘treasure’, religious cults and police corruption are all intertwined in this novel. The novel is jam packed with action, fast pace, and includes plenty of detail. This left me wanting the novel to be made into a movie. For a genre I rarely read, I absolutely loved it and needed this for a fresh change to my usual selection. Julie, VIC, 5 Stars

Treasure & Dirt is an enthralling novel that captivated me from the first page. It is a suspenseful mystery full of intrigue and drama with interesting minor stores woven into the main narrative. The characters are believable, the storyline strong, the setting which is outback NSW dramatic and vivid. Treasure & Dirt is a RIPPER. Julie, NSW, 5 Stars

This being the first time I’ve read Chris Hammer, I can say I am now a huge fan. Treasure and Dirt transported me instantly to the hot dusty opal mining towns scattered throughout outback Australia. Found the book hard to out down. Jason, VIC, 5 Stars

Having enjoyed Chris Hammer’s previous titles, I was worried about being disappointed by ‘Treasure & Dirt’. However, those concerns soon dissipated. This book has some links to his earlier works but in a way that makes you feel as though you’re in on a secret. Not having read them won’t diminish your enjoyment. Hammer vividly conveys the challenges of living in Finnigans Gap, an opal mining community in outback NSW. You can feel the heat and want to brush away the flies as the layers of the mystery are revealed. I enjoyed the contrasting characters of Ivan Lucic and Nell Buchanan, who both had secrets which could destroy them. Everyone in the town, from billionaires who arrived in their private jets to hopeful miners eking out a living, contributed colour and complexity to a satisfying and rewarding read. Penny, VIC, 5 Stars

Treasure and Dirt is a uniquely and unapologetically Australian crime thriller. The story is full of great characters, suspense, intrigue and plot twists. The fictional opal mining town of Finnigans Gap is so well described that one can feel the scorching heat and taste the dust and despair of its desolation. The characters are interesting and believable and for the most part likeable. They are flawed and have hidden motives. What starts as a somewhat simple murder investigation uncovers a web of interconnected lies that leads to a shocking conclusion. Janelle, NSW, 5 Stars

Wow, this is a great page-turner which kept me reading into the early hours to finish it. I felt the heat and dust as Detectives Ivan and Nell investigate the death and crucifixion of opal miner Jacob at his underground mine. A nearby coal mine, rare earth site and religious group led by the Seer are interwoven through the investigation on the way to the true story of Jacob’s death. I thoroughly recommend this book. Five stars! Elizabeth, NSW, 5 Stars

Another cracking tale from Chris Hammer and this does not disappoint. A great Aussie thriller that has you hooked early on and keeps you enthralled until the end. If you loved Silver, make sure this book is on your ‘list’! Jenny, VIC, 5 Stars

I am a Chris Hammer fan and have read his previous 3 books, however I feel that this is one of my favourite reads. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and being able to further explore a character from the Martin Scarsden books, however it could also be read as a standalone novel. The storyline was developed over the course of the book and I was never 100% sure of how the book was going to end. I also particularly liked the description of the town and felt like it built such a picture, that I could imagine being there amongst the heat and the flies. I would highly recommend this book to fans of Chris Hammer and new readers being introduced to this author and I am hoping for another book to further explore these new characters. Rebecca, ACT, 5 Stars

Wow, I loved this gritty crime story. It is an absolute masterpiece! I could imagine the rugged outback and the blistering, oppressive heat, in a dusty, drought ridden small town where the locals do it hard and live a very different way of life to ‘the city slickers’. I also loved how the book took the time to vividly detail the landscape in an almost mindful way, where the characters themselves take in their surroundings and the sights and sounds, resulting in them feeling a sense of peace amid the chaos. This book is so wonderfully written. Not only is the imagery and atmosphere exquisitely bought to life but the characters are realistic and likeable too, I felt as though I was cheering from the sidelines for the two detectives, Ivan and Nell, as they piece together clue after clue while the story unfolded; they are brilliant characters. The storyline uncovers so much! Who knew a tiny town could have so much going on within it? I really enjoyed the way the book had MANY things going on but by the end, all questions are answered. So well done! I highly recommend this read!! Chryssie, QLD, 5 Stars

The title Treasure and Dirt gives a hint of what is to become. How wrong can you be? The story, the characters everything including the scenery is layered in grime. Grime from the earth and mans greed and dishonesty.”If I won it went to charity, If I lost it was gone” is a quote that shows how wounded a man can be whilst holding his dignity.Readers are in for a twist, laughs reflection and a shock. The Australian landscape reflects this. Tracey, NSW, 5 Stars

When Detective Ivan Lucic and Detective Constable Nell Buchanan arrive at Finnigan’s Gap, an opal mining town in remote northern New South Wales to investigate a death they find that it is not straightforward. The victim has been crucified and left locked in his own mine. The local police are finding it hard to control law and order in a town where the locals survive on “beer and aircons”. With everyone in the town having secrets of their own it doesn’t help that there is animosity between the victim and his family, a religious cult whose head the Seer is far from helpful and wealthy mining magnates with their own agendas. Ivan and Nell find themselves being investigated by Internal affairs so to prove themselves they must solve the case as soon as possible. Like Chris Hammer’s other books it is a riveting read from start to finish and his descriptions of the town and the mines make you believe that you are there. Liz, VIC, 5 Stars

Treasure and Dirt is the fourth novel by Australian author Chris Hammer. An opal miner is found dead and crucified. Sydney homicide detective Ivan Lucic is dispatched to Finnigans Gap an outback town. Joining Ivan is inexperienced young investigator Narelle Buchanan also known as Nell. In the past Finnigans Gap has ended a police career and damaged other careers. Soon Ivan and Nell are facing allegations and internal investigations. It makes you think that they may have been set up and if they were who has set them up. The more secrets they find out the more mysterious it becomes, as events from years ago take on a new significance. Police had been struggling to maintain law and order at Finnigans Gap beforehand. There are thieves in the opal mines and religious fanatics who are recruiting young people and billionaires. From the beginning there is nothing straight forward about the case. Author Chris Hammer has acknowledged that Finnigans Gap is loosely based on Lightning Ridge which is in north-western New South Wales. I was a huge fan of Chris Hammer before reading Treasure and Dirt and I was not disappointed with his latest book. This book is amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I highly recommend it to everyone. Freda, QLD, 5 Stars

Picture this… the blasting heat of the outback, two cops each with baggage put together as a team to solve a murder unusual from any other. A crucified miner down a well, who could have done this? With the experience of DS Lucic and his new partner Nell they have the matter in hand quickly due to hard work and a different way to look at things (courtesy of Nell), but had it all been just a set up to remove those who have been asking the questions. The author offers lies which take the reader down many paths before the shattering end. A great book for those who like to see justice served fairly after all, and a look into the ever different ways of the bush. Loved the humour! Sharon, NSW, 5 Stars

Set in the dusty outback with the clinging hope and dreams of lifelong opal miners this has you gasping at every turn. The brutal murder and city detective out of his natural habitat capture the minds and gossip of the locals. Just as you thin you are starting to put the pieces together – new characters and twists enter the mix. So many with motives and long standing grudges. There is a lot more than just opals to dig up in this town. Tina, QLD, 5 Stars

Chris Hammer is getting better and better! What a mystery. Gritty and fast paced and so very Aussie I enjoyed every minute. Can’t wait to see what Chris does next. I think his talent is growing, Treasure and Dirt was so well written and a step up. Rachel, QLD, 5 Stars

Stop! Hammer time! Treasure & Dirt is my first book that I have read by Chris Hammer and I have to say it won’t be my last. Love getting large books and finding myself enthralled in the story. Even better is it is set in Australia. Opal mines, ratters, and a homicide (or a few) to boot, wherever there is money trouble will surely follow. Introduce the two billionaires for some more corruption. The writing style was very easy to read and the twists and turns just kept me reading all the way through with many sleepless nights, just one more chapter and I will go to bed! The relationship between Ivan and Nell was interesting and I would love to see another book with these two characters. The ending was tied up well and brought about more unexpected outcomes to solve two other homicides as well. Again was not the outcomes I had thought. Great book, loved it, and Chris Hammer is a definite on my must read all books by this author list. Jodie, VIC, 5 Stars

So so good! Could not put this book down, from the moment I started reading it had me. Being an Aussie based novel the characters and locations feel really relatable, like it could be happening in real time! Hope there’s more to come loving Chris Hammer. Kate, QLD, 5 Stars

This was my first Chris Hammer novel and now I’m keen to look into his other work. A great crime detective novel set in outback Australia. Well written with high attention to detail; I felt like I was there in all the scenes! Believable and real characters as well. A thick book (nearly 500 pages!) but well worth the read. Nicola, QLD, 4 Stars

What a great, fast paced book. I did not want to put it down, and my mess of a house is a testimony to that. Chris Hammer knows how to set an atmosphere and sets the scene of an Australian mining town brilliantly. I felt like I was a part of the novel. He writes characters with flaws, who are still loveable. This book has it all; corruption, coverups and cults, with a large serving of revenge. Highly recommend for all lovers of crime procedurals or thrillers. I would particularly recommend for Australian readers who want to read more local material. Jaclyn, WA, 4 Stars

The book, Treasure and Dirt, transports you to another place. A fantastic read that digs deep into the detectives’ own secrets as they work to uncover the life of a miner crucified on a cross. A slow burn at the beginning lights up some fast-paced dynamite action towards the end. Treasure and Dirt deals with the themes of corruption, family and professional ethics in an entertaining way. It leaves you questioning to the last page whether there should be truth, loyalty or justice because sometimes we can’t have all three. Sam, ACT, 4 Stars

Treasure and Dirt and was an enjoyable, escapist read. The setting is vivid, dominated by the harsh landscape and the odd characters drawn to the remote life or the lure of opals. Having strangers as the main characters allowed the reader to learn about them as they get to know each other. The characters feel real, with their own motives and faults. The tension is kept high, leaving you guessing about motives and who is hiding what until the end. Great for fans of realistic, Australian thrillers. Katie, NSW, 4 Stars

A slow burn thriller and Chris writes the complex plot and the setting so eloquently!! Rural crime as a genre is on rise for fans of crime thrillers. Neelima, NSW, 4 Stars

I was super excited to read Chris Hammer’s latest as I’ve enjoyed all of his others. Treasure and Dirt didn’t disappoint. I loved the fact that while it was “stand alone” from his first three books, there was character overlap and some story progression with those characters. It was interesting to learn more about Ivan Lucic and at the same time meet Nell, who was a refreshing character. The novel kept me guessing – it was fast paced and all of the loose ends tied up right at the end. I love the way Hammer breathes life into his Australian settings – its beauty and its harshness – and Finnegan’s Gap was no exception. If there was one drawback it was the gambling addiction (don’t want to spoil too much) – it felt contrived by the end of the novel. Overall this is smart crime fiction in an Australian setting with good solid characters. I hope it’s not truly “stand alone” and we get to see more of both Ivan and Nell. Yvonne, NSW, 4 Stars

This book was a page turner although I needed to keep my concentration because it was long and a bit complicated. Two detectives are sent to a remote opal and mining town to investigate an unusual murder, but there are lots of sidetracks and rabbit holes to go down. It got a bit bogged down in unnecessary detail which made it more difficult to get a handle on the main plot. Gloria, SA, 3 Stars

Reviews

An Unputdownable Thriller: Read Our Review of Treasure and Dirt by Chris Hammer

Review | Our Review

28 September 2021

An Unputdownable Thriller: Read Our Review of Treasure and Dirt by Chris Hammer

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                        Publisher details

                        Treasure and Dirt
                        Author
                        Chris Hammer
                        Publisher
                        Allen & Unwin
                        Genre
                        Fiction
                        Released
                        28 September, 2021
                        ISBN
                        9781760877606

                        Synopsis

                        An unputdownable standalone thriller from the bestselling author of Scrublands. In the desolate outback town of Finnigans Gap, police struggle to maintain law and order. Thieves pillage opal mines, religious fanatics recruit vulnerable young people 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 straightforward, not even who found the body. Sydney 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 secrets they uncover, the more harrowing the mystery becomes, as events from years ago take on a startling new significance. For in Finnigans Gap, opals, bodies and secrets don't stay buried forever.

                        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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