Friday, 1 September 2017

Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry (Aaron Falk, #1)
Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well...

When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds start bleeding into fresh ones. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret... A secret Falk thought long-buried... A secret which Luke's death starts to bring to the surface...

Staceys review 5 of 5 stars

Melbourne is experiencing the worst drought of the century. And within the small farming town of Kiewarra, people are desperate. Shops are closing, crops are dry, farmers are losing their farms. But would desperate people of a small town resort to murdering one of their own to save themselves? This is what detective Aaron Falk wants to find out when he returns to his hometown after twenty years to attend his best friend Luke's funeral. Luke Hadler is accused of murdering his wife and son, while leaving his baby daughter crying in her crib, before turning his shotgun on himself. The majority of the desolate town believes the theory of Luke's death. Luke's parents, who practically raised Aaron, implore him to informally look into the death as they do not believe their son would do such a thing. Aaron agrees, not only to appease the Hadler's, but also to repay Luke for a twenty year old favor: Luke was Aaron's false alibi for the suspicious death of their teenage friend, which was the event that ran Aaron and his father out of town twenty years ago. Aaron needs to figure out if these two horrible events are linked but, other than Kiewarra's new sargent, agent Raco, it seems the townsfolk are not eager to help him. Small towns have long memories and Aaron left under a cloud of suspicion that returned with him. If only that cloud brought with it some much needed rain would Aaron be welcomed home.

I loved this book- it is definitely in my top ten if not five favorite reads of 2017 thus far. What sucked me in? The writing style- sometimes it's difficult to put into words why a style clicks with me- I just connect to the flow of the words and how I feel when reading them. This is how I felt reading this novel. Connected. Right from the start. Ms. Harper sucked me into the desperation of the people of Kiewarra- they are so hopeless that they quickly believe that Luke Hadler- a once jovial, larger than life character within their midst- would feel there was no other way out for his family than to slaughter them all. Well, except for his one year old daughter... I felt the tension of the townspeople, who also have to deal with seeing Aaron again after twenty years. Their last memory of the Falks was of him running (or being run) out of town by the mean, alcoholic father of a young friend who drowned. The small town is literally about to go up in flames and Aaron just might be the spark to ignite it. I felt for Aaron, who himself is not an overly exciting, explosive character. He is a good guy that wants to clear his friend's name for the people and legacy he leaves behind.

I've read plenty of intense, action packed crime novels and I do enjoy them. This novel is not one of those- it's not a fast paced roller coaster ride with shocking loops and drops but a slow ride in the country with plenty of twists to keep the reader tuned in and wanting to know more. It was a book that kept me thinking about it and looking forward to the next time I could grab my kindle to read a chapter or two. I felt like I cared about the ending and the characters of the town. I really liked how the two mysteries were tied into the plot and, while the reader tries to figure out the 'whos' and 'whys', there are still enough question marks to keep us thinking. The ending is satisfying without being overly predictable. But really, for me, it was all about the writing and how it made me feel. Loved it!

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