The Dry by Jane Harper



I just can’t understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime.

My review:

A debut novel that promises secrets, childhood memories and murder! What’s not to like? Set during a severe drought, in the outback Australia this novel has at atmospheric feel to it. There are running parallels between city life and country existence.

The protagonist Aaron Falk is summoned to his small hometown of Kiewarra by his childhood best friend’s father via way of a note stating
“Luke lied, you lide, be at the funeral”.
Falk’s childhood best friends Luke Hadler is the main suspect in his family annihilation case, leaving dead his young wife Karen and son Billy. But is the case what it seems? Did Luke really kill his family and turn the shotgun on himself?

There is a wealth of characters from the past and the present, that fully add to the plot. But this is a small town with not only it’s secrets, but a small town mentality and some would rather no questions were asked. When Falk teams up with Sgt Raco to investigate further ‘off the books’. We begin to understand why some in the town hate Falk so much and his family were run out of town years ago.

There is an elusive character from the past, who’s death caused tense emotions and mistrust in the town. How did Ellie Deacon die and what does Falk have to hide? With no outside forensics found at the sight and the lone survivor the infant daughter Charlotte, this is a complex mystery. We learn of the family members and their various roles in the community. The failing farm and the economics that led to a financial struggle etc. There is confusing suspects and conflicting evidence throughout.

The investigation continues at a rather slow pace and I found this to be not in fitting with the opening of the novel. But the ending did not disappoint, it is moving and emotionally charged. 3.5*

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