As reviewed in our May newsletter:
Set in a small town in a large land, the novel opens with an apparently open-shut case of murder-suicide. However, all is not what it seems. When policeman and former resident, Aaron Falk returns to attend the funeral of his childhood friend, he asks a few questions; did Luke really kill his wife and son or was there malfeasance – some wrongdoing?
The tension here is set against the relative peace of the outback so the very suggestion of homicide is alarming because the landscape itself then suddenly takes on a malevolent aspect. The dry is a term for drought and after two years without rain the local community is mired in poverty and particularly fraught.
Aaron himself is not welcome because he was implicated in the death of a young woman who was his girlfriend – twenty years earlier. Two people, Raco, the local cop, and Gretchen, a friend who remained, assist and between them provide pieces of the puzzle. Aaron finally discovers a grave site and is then suddenly confronted by his nemesis. From this confrontation, Aaron believes he has the final piece of the puzzle. All I can say is that the author handles the ending well. Time spent reading this story is time well spent. Highly recommended. Mike
A small town hides big secrets in The Dry, an atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by award-winning author Jane Harper.
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke's steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn't tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.
Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there's more to Luke's death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.
Shortlisted for Australian Independent Booksellers Indie Awards: Debut Fiction 2017.
Jane Harper has worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK. Winner of the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, The Dry is her first novel with rights sold to over twenty territories. Jane lives in Melbourne.