Book review: Scavengers, Robert Hood

A novel that stitches crime and modern monsters together with a classic horror story at its heart.

Set in Wollongong, NSW, Scavengers features Mike Crowe, a private investigator who is blackmailed into tracking down a serial murderer dubbed ‘the Scavenger’ for the meticulous manner in which he cuts up his victims. We follow our protagonist Crowe as he tries to find the killer, all the while being plagued by terrible recurring dreams about an earlier failed investigation of the death of a young woman called Lucy. 

Hood’s genre of choice is horror/crime fiction, but in some ways the world he has created is possible in the present day. Setting the novel in the beautiful coastal town of Wollongong, NSW, Hood suggests to the reader that these types of killings can happen anywhere.

Crowe works with both criminals and police to track down the Scavenger, and Hood dips into different points of view so the reader is offered an insight into various characters’ memories and perspectives. Lucy’s ghost even starts sending messages to Crowe through his dreams. We also dive into the murderer’s mind from time to time, through letters that continually make reference to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a creation that obviously inspires him as he goes about his killing business.

Read: Book review: The Other Olivia, Tamara M Bailey

Despite a few nuggets of fast action, Scavengers is a slow excavation, and Crowe has a ‘mindless serendipity’ regarding certain situations. Characters all seem to fulfil stereotypes, which Hood points out later in the novel.

With over 140 short stories published and several awards to his name, Hood enjoys playing with genre and that shines through in this novel. It’s not a keep-you-up-at-night horror or an edge-of-your-seat crime, but it is, as the title suggests, a scavenging tale: a mishmash of both genres that offers enough intrigue to read on.

Scavengers by Robert Hood
Publisher: Clan Destine Press
ISBN: 9780645316827
Format: Paperback
Pages: 367pp
RRP: $32.95
Publication date: September 2022

Lisette Drew is a writer, theatre maker and youth literature advocate, who has worked nationally and overseas on over 50 theatrical productions. Her play, Breakwater, was shortlisted for two playwriting awards and her novel The Cloud Factory was longlisted for The Hawkeye Prize. In 2022 she received a Kill Your Darlings Mentorship and was a City of Melbourne Writer-in-Residence. Lisette shares her love for stories and storytelling running writing and theatre workshops for children.