Silver by Chris Hammer [7/10]

Scrubland,” the debut by Australian author Chris Hammer featuring his investigative hero, journalist Martin Scarsden, was a poised triumph of plot and character and evocative setting. Hammer’s sophomore novel, “Silver,” again features Scarsden, transplanted now to a tucked-away seaside town, Port Silver. This was where Scarsden grew up and his beau, Mandalay, has bought a house there, and within pages Martin is embroiled in a terrible murder. As in the debut, the mystery is a labyrinthine puzzler, the kind us mystery fans love, and Hammer orchestrates the unfolding with consummate skill. In contrast to the drought-blighted setting of “Scrubland,” this novel brings out the seaside vibe in an engrossing manner. If I found Scarsden to be less deeply portrayed this time round, especially in his plot-centric relationship with Mandalay, I was once more swept up by the rocketing plot and smooth writing. Not quite the sensation the first novel was, “Silver” is nonetheless a splendid, big-and-complex-plot mystery that reads like a dream.

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