The Dry - Jane Harper

In a parched, dry community, a few hours travelling distance from Melbourne, the bloody killing of Luke, Karen and Billy Hadler has occurred. Attending the funeral is childhood friend and serving policeman Aaron Falk, who becomes involved in the criminal investigation thus resurrecting some painful 20 year old memories. As the investigation proceeds and the list of suspects mounts some long forgotten events tear the heart and soul from the good inhabitants of Kiewarra as they struggle for answers in this rain starved oven.

 

From the moment I received a gratis copy of this book from the publisher I knew I was about to read something extra special. The very texture and feel of the dust jacket with its depiction of red burning heat and rawness immediately set the tone for the harshness of the landscape and the brutality of the content. The author expertly portrays a suspicious people attempting to come to terms with a hidden killer in their midst as they dig out a living on a landscape starved of rain for two years...."They gazed around and were always taken aback by the crushing vastness of the open land. The space was the thing that hit them first. There was so much of it. There was enough to drown in. To look out and see not another soul between you and the horizon could be a strange and disturbing sight." Falk is unwelcome as there are suspicions over the death of Ellie Deacon many years ago, and he is viewed as having a pivotal role with his then childhood friend Luke...so where does the truth lie?

 

This book succeeds with me on so many levels. It is a first class crime story full of deception and subterfuge making it almost impossible for the reader to identify the killer, who when exposed is totally unexpected. It is a story of heartache and greed and ultimately survival as to exist here means coming to terms with the effects of drought and the harsh day to day hand to mouth existence. It is a story of suspicion and mistrust all played out under the unrelenting heat of an endless sun sucking the last ounce of energy from anything that moves...."Soon, they'd discover that the vegies didn't grow as willingly as they had in the city window box. That every single green shoot had to be coaxed and prised from the reluctant soil, and the neighbours  were too busy doing the same on an industrial scale to muster much cheer in their greetings."...

 

Many thanks to Little Brown the publishers for sending me a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. I cannot recommend highly enough!