Right from the first gripping opening lines of the prologue, Jane Harper‘s graphic prose grabbed my attention, bringing with them images of the vast and often merciless countryside which, from the description, is located not far from the rural Victoria township this reviewer is about to call home.
An unexplained death from decades earlier, and now three new ones – and with more than a hint of suicide attached … or was it from something just as tragic but far more sinister?
The Dry has more than enough suspicious characters to keep a reader guessing as to what the chances are that the demise of a young family was undertaken by a revengeful murderer as the most logical explanation, even though all the signs point to a murder/suicide scenario. With a dry season up there with the best of them and causing all sorts of hardships for every single one of the weather-dependant farmers in this rural district, it appears Luke Hadler decided to take the fate of his young family into his own hands – at the pointy end of a gun.
When Aaron, Luke’s closest friend from childhood days, comes back to pay his respects, the whole town looks on him suspiciously. Memories of an unsolved murder of one of their closest friends – Aaron’s former sweetheart – still play on their mind. Everyone knows something suspicious happened that night between the boys, but just what and where it fitted into Ellie’s death is still a mystery nearly twenty years later.
Decades-old continually festering wounds are split open and raging hatreds rise up on several fronts when, at the request of his old friend’s grieving father, Aaron decides to take off his cap of mateship and put on the navy blue and white one from his policing job in the city to investigate several facts that just don’t add up. Nearly every resident of this small town seems to have a dark secret in some form or another and it is up to Aaron and the local copper to get to the bottom of them all, even though he has several of his own, which doesn’t bode well with a few nasty characters.
And just when you think you’re starting to figure it out, along comes an unexpected cat among the pigeons … and from the most unlikely of places.
A most intriguing and satisfying read.
The Dry by Jane Harper is available now from Dymocks.
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