Tune in to virtual author talk with crime novelist Chris Hammer

Author Chris Hammer's new book Treasure and Dirt is his fourth fiction release in as many years. Picture: Mike Bowers
Author Chris Hammer's new book Treasure and Dirt is his fourth fiction release in as many years. Picture: Mike Bowers

The mystery surrounding a murdered opal miner will be the topic of the day next week as celebrated author Chris Hammer talks about his new book.

The crime writer has just released Treasure and Dirt, his new book published by Allen and Unwin, and will deliver a virtual author talk and answer questions as part of the BAD Sydney Crime Writers Festival.

The Zoom talk is being supported by a number of councils, including Sutherland and Campbelltown.

To celebrate the new release and upcoming talk, Australian Community Media has a bunch of books to give away to lucky readers - and two fans with the best questions on the day can also score a pack with all of Hammer's books, thanks to Allen and Unwin.

Treasure and Dirt is a standalone thriller from the author of Trust, Silver and Scrublands and is set in the desolate outback opal mining town of Finnigans Gap.

Nothing about the crucified miner's death is straightforward giving Sydney homicide detective Ivan Lucic (who previously appeared in Trust) plenty to investigate alongside young local Nell Buchanan.

The new novel

The new novel

"Imagine an outback mining town, populated by opal thieves and cross-dressing miners, with a fanatical religious cult and a couple of take-no-prisoner mining billionaires," Hammer said.

"And then imagine an opal miner is found crucified down his mine. And then imagine a couple of homicide detectives, with their own careers hanging in the balance, uncovering secret upon secret. That's Treasure and Dirt."

The author's three previous novels followed characters Martin Scarsden and Mandalay Blonde, but he decided to set them aside for his new book.

"It was hard to leave Martin and Mandy aside, but didn't want to cheat readers," Hammer said.

"Martin and Mandy go through all sorts of emotional turmoil in those three books, and I didn't think I could write a book where they didn't have the same level of emotional skin in the game.

"I couldn't think of something suitable, so I thought they deserved a rest. I reckon they'll be back; I just need the right idea."

He said there were plenty of new characters in Treasure and Dirt which would excite readers - not least of which being the lead investigators.

"Wait until you need Ivan Lucic and Nell Buchanan," he said.

"That said, there are some colourful minor characters: an old boyfriend of Nell's called Trevor Topsoil, a blowhard lawyer named Humphrey Tuppence, a cross-dressing mayor who has false teeth made from opal.

"But I like a former soldier known simply as Holgate, who isn't a humorous character at all, but plays and important part in the story."

Hammer was a political journalist and foreign correspondent for more the three decades before he turned his pen to fiction.

His previous works have won and been nominated for awards in Australia and the UK.

The author talk will be held on Wednesday, October 13 at 6pm. The event is free but bookings are essential.


Australian Community Media has a bunch of copies of Chris Hammer's Treasure and Dirt to give away to lucky readers thanks to our friends at Allen and Unwin.

For your chance to win, simply fill out the form below and tell us in 25 words or fewer who your favourite fictional detective is, and why.

Entries close midnight Tuesday, October 26.

Please read the terms and conditions.

This story Tune in to virtual author talk with crime novelist Chris Hammer first appeared on St George & Sutherland Shire Leader.