This month Criminally Good Book Club voted to read The Dry, and what an excellent choice it was!
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…
Harper has plotted a great story in The Dry, a great mystery with a wonderful cast of characters. Particularly the main protagonist, Aaron Falk, who is extremely likeable. In contrast to this was an extremely unlikeable character. While both characters disliked each other, one was willing to be active in his dislike and convince the town to be active too and this made me like Falk even more as I wished the town would just leave him alone. It’s great when an author involves you in the plot in this way as you become more engaged in the read, rather than passively turning pages, you are invested in not only the mystery but the characters too.
The mystery is a good one, one that you’ll be hard pressed to figure out; with a mystery from 20 years ago still affecting the town, you wonder how it’s connected to the current mystery. The Dry opens with a short prologue that leaves you no choice but to read on, it’s so gripping and sets the tone for the entire novel. While the story is not particularly fast-paced or graphic, Harper creates such as intense atmosphere, you’re compelled to read on. What I really appreciated is usually it’s cold weather conditions that authors use to create a dark and suspenseful atmosphere but here Harper uses the sweltering heat – I don’t know about you but when I’m extremely hot, I get all flustered and annoyed really easily, it’s lovely to lie in the sun and relax but when you are trying to get on with the day’s tasks in extreme hot weather, it’s no fun. So, you can imagine how on edge a town would be in this sweltering heat Harper portrays; a murder/suicide has shocked the town and this stifling heat creates an intensity and unpredictably to the plot as you’re not sure how the town is going to react to Falk asking questions.
Narrated by Falk, and featuring flashbacks from 20 years ago, The Dry is a mystery novel that I have no reservations recommending, though it’s Harper’s debut novel, she writes with the flair of someone who has been writing best-selling books for years. It makes me really happy when I enjoy a book by a new author, only to realise it’s the first book in a series so this is not the last readers will see of Aaron Falk – I’m looking forward to reading book 2.
Reviews by other book club members: