Scrublands by Chris Hammer (Headline, £8.99)

Move over Scandi crime, the Australians have arrived. Jane Harper had a huge hit a couple of years ago with The Dry and now Chris Hammer is set to do the same this summer with Scrublands.

This compulsive thriller takes place during the height of the Millennium drought, in a very tiny town called Riversend in the New South Wales Riverina area of Australia, served by the Murray river.

Martin Scarsden comes to town a year after a devastating gun crime involving the local priest and five of the townsmen. Initially he is tasked with writing a piece about the effects of the act a year on, but soon he realises there are many more questions that have still to be answered.

Scarsden is plunged into the heart of the community, risking his life during a bush fire and saving a young boy in a car accident. At the same time, the locals begin to open up and share some very dark secrets.

The setting, the searing heat, the dying desert town in the arm of a dried up river and the surrounding lawless scrublands all evoke a wild west flavour that adds to the narrative.

The lack of internet and phone signals conveniently keeps the wider world at bay as news and information come through in a much more patchy way.

Chris Hammer has found a perfect setting for his epic crime novel and paces it just right so there is always more to find out, the excitement cranking up with each page as the story widens out.

Philippa Morris