The Dry by Jane Harper
This crime novel follows the story of Aaron Falk, an Australian Federal Police investigator who returns to his hometown in a small farming community to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke Hadler, and Luke’s family.
It’s been many years since he’s been home, with good reason, and he intends to leave as quickly as possible after his obligations are fulfilled. But at the emotional request of Luke’s mother, he stays to dig a little into the deaths, and the closed-minded community of Kiewarra draws in menacingly around him.
Old grievances come to air and we discover Aaron’s past hold a secret that harbours bad memories for the locals. What seems at first a likely domestic homicide, becomes a rather more complicated story of suspicion, betrayal and friendship.
The story is framed by the harsh realities of drought for country farmers, with spot fires of mental health, prejudice, suicide and domestic violence.
I loved the very “Australian” flavour of this crime novel. The language, scenes and tones were familiar to me and all at once, managed to be both inviting and suffocating. Though I love the country, a farmer’s life is far too brutal for me. The characters were multi-dimensional, interesting and there were plenty to both love and hate.
The main character, Aaron Falk, was a worthy protagonist, and I would certainly follow him into other novels. I could have done without the advent of a child’s murder at the beginning, but for what it’s worth, the author kept description to a minimum. This was the kind of book that takes you down a rabbit-hole of true-to-life characters and their shady backstories and leaves you guessing to the last.
You can pick up a copy of The Dry on Amazon here.
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