Saturday, December 31, 2016
The Dry by Jane Harper
Kiewarra is a small farming community in rural Australia and Aaron Falk's hometown. He lived there until he was sixteen when the town turned against him and his father after the death of his girlfriend. Some called it murder and some suspected either Aaron or his father of the crime. Aaron was never formally suspected as his best friend Luke gave him an alibi. The problem was that the alibi was false. The town at first shunned Aaron and his father then the issue escalated until the two were basically run out of town.
Twenty years on, Aaron has made a life in Sydney. He is a Federal Agent, working in the Financial Division. He is startled when he sees a news story from Kiewarra. It states that Luke Hadler, his old friend, has killed his family and then himself. Aaron is shocked as it is nothing he could ever have believed of Luke. Then Luke's father calls, asking Aaron to return to town for the funeral and stating that he knows Luke's alibi all those years ago was a lie.
Aaron returns and the town is undergoing hard times. There is a drought the likes of which hasn't been seen in decades and everything is drying up and withering. Money is tight as more and more farmers go under and stores close. In the midst of the general suffering, the crime is even more horrifying. As Aaron learns more, he continues to question if Luke was really capable of doing this. Luke's father doesn't believe it either and the new policeman in town has doubts. He accepts Aaron's help and they start to delve into the crime and soon discover that the town is hiding even more secrets than they ever suspected.
This is Jane Harper's debut novel although she has been a journalist for years. It was a #1 bestseller in Australia and has already been commissioned for a movie. The story is stark, fitting the atmosphere and environment it is placed in. The writing is sparse and the reader is transported to a small farming community on the verge of panic as everything dries up and is tinder-ready. This book is recommended for mystery readers.