Australian crime author Chris Hammer Grafton Book Warehouse manager Angela Clarke during his book signing visit to the store on Thursday.
Australian crime author Chris Hammer Grafton Book Warehouse manager Angela Clarke during his book signing visit to the store on Thursday. Tim Howard

Is 'dingo noir' a winner to describe Aussie crime writing?

CRIME fiction fans in the Clarence Valley can pick up signed copies of the first two works by one of the country's rising stars in the genre.

Fresh from winning the 2019 John Creasy "New Blood” Award for best first crime novel at the UK Crime Writers Association Dagger Awards, for Scrublands, Chris Hammer was in Grafton on Thursday, on a publicity tour for his follow-up book, Silver.

Hammer spent about an hour at the Book Warehouse in Grafton on Thursday signing copies of both books.

"Apart from a crazy three days in the UK (at the Dagger awards) I've been on a whirlwind tour of the big cities and now I'm working my way through the regional centres,” Hammer said.

He said his second novel, featuring the same lead character, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden, this time returning to his fictional home town of Silver, set on the NSW North Coast.

"It's a town touted as the new Byron Bay and the characters are motivated by trying to make the most of the real estate opportunies they think will arise,” he said.

Hammer said after the success of Scrublands he had been amused at the attempts to come up with a category for this type of writing.

"We've had 'outback noir', 'bush noir' 'sunburnt noir' or 'red dirt crime' or 'Southern Cross crime',” he said.

"Actually the best I've heard was when I ran into Laurie Oakes recently and he called it 'dingo noir'.”

Hammer said while he felt he working in the tradition of the creators of the 'noir' or hard-boiled genre such as Dashiell Hammet or Raymond Chandler, he felt the term was a bit of a catch-all phrase to cash in on the recent success of Australian writers.

"Since Jane Harper came to international notice, suddenly all eyes are on Australia and they're wanting to come up with something catchy for the writers they're targeting,” he said.

Scrublands has also attracted the attention of the TV industry with Easy Tiger, the makers of Rake and Jack Irish, buying the option for a series screening on the streaming service, Stan.

Grafton store manager Angela Clarke said Scrublands had been popular with local book buyers.

"We sold out when we got it in last year,” she said.



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