The Dry (Aaron Falk, #1) by Jane Harper
2017 Flatiron Books
Finished on January 11 2018
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
Federal agent Aaron Falk hasn't been back to the place where he grew up in twenty years. Not since he and his father were run out of town. Even when Falk gets word that his childhood best friend, Luke, is dead and his entire family has been murdered, Falk still isn't planning on going back. But then he gets a note: Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral. And just like that, Falk is swept back into the secrets of the place and people he left so long ago.
When Falk returns for the funeral, Luke's parents implore him to look into his death -- though everyone else in town thinks the case is open-and-shut, they're sure something's not right. But as Falk himself knows, it's hard to get people to change their minds, and sometimes things are not as they appear. Amid the worst drought in a century, long-buried mysteries will resurface, as will the lies that accompany them. And Falk will discover anew what he's known all along: Sometimes you have to go back home in order to finally leave your past behind.
What a rip-roaring page-turner! I fell in love with Harper's masterful debut, eager to get back to it every evening, trying to unravel the threads of the two separate murders, chasing each red herring right up until the big reveal. The Dry is much more than just a mystery. The Australian setting is very much a character, with its unrelenting heat, dry open fields, snakes and spiders -- spiders such as the Huntsman and Red Back. (Nope. Sorry. I can't provide links because that would mean I would have to look at pictures of those spiders!) If this story is ever brought to the big screen, I can guarantee I will have my eyes covered at any mention of spiders. (OK, they were only briefly mentioned three times, but that was enough to make me a little uneasy.)
No-one tells you this is how it’s going to be, do they? Oh yes, they’re all so sorry for your loss, all so keen to pop round and get the gossip when it happens, but no-one mentions having to go through your dead son’s drawers and return their library books, do they? No-one tells you how to cope with that.Jane Harper has hit a home run with this debut thriller! The pacing is taut, the characters well-developed and the conclusion satisfying and not one bit convoluted or rushed. The flashbacks are seamlessly woven into the narrative without creating a jarring disruption to the flow of the story. Well done!