The Dry, by Jane Harper is fast-paced, suspenseful and utterly engaging. Federal police officer Aaron Falk returns to his home-town in rural Australia to attend the funeral of his childhood friend, Luke Hadler, who’s been accused of murdering his wife and child and then turning the gun on himself. Unable to accept that their son committed this terrible crime, Hadler’s parents convince Falk to help the local police with the investigation.
There is, of course, more to the case than is first apparent. The town of Kiewarra is steeped in hidden secrets, including the one that drove sixteen-year-old Falk and his father out of town twenty years previously, never to return. The townsfolk make it clear that Falk is unwelcome, and the more he delves into the events surrounding the Hadlers’ deaths, the more violently they express their displeasure.
Harper’s writing takes the reader effortlessly through Falk’s story. Her depiction of a rural Australian town caught in the midst of a drought is evocative. You can feel the heat, hear the flies buzzing, taste the dryness in the air. The tension simmers from the first page, and builds to a crescendo at a pace that keeps them turning. The characters are convincing and likeable. What more could you want from a good crime novel? I will definitely be looking for future works from this author. Highly recommended.