‘Who really killed the Hadler family?’
Today I review a book that has received fantastic reviews across the board, The Dry by Jane Harper.
Chosen as our book-club choice for February, I think we can safely say that the general consensus was a big thumbs up.
Set in Australia, The Dry captures the atmosphere of a town driven to despair by drought, a town grieving the loss of a family, a town that is caught up in it’s local prejudice and hatred.
Originally published in Australia by Pan MacMillan in 2016, I read a ‘borrowed’ hardback that was published by Little Brown in 2017.
Read on for my thoughts…
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…
‘It wasn’t as though the farm hadn’t seen death before, and the blowflies didn’t discriminate. To them there was little difference between a carcass and a corpse’
What an opening line!!!
The small rural town of Kiewarra, in the state of Victoria, is in the midst of one of the worst droughts it has witnessed in years. With the livestock too undernourished to be of use to anyone and with land that is too arid to tend, the farming community is at it’s wits end. With tempers fraying the locals are distracted and distraught, with late night pub brawls now a more common occurrence.
The people thought that life could not get any tougher, until news spreads like a wild fire, that the bodies of Luke, Karen and young Billy Hadler have been found, all brutally murdered with a shotgun. The neighbours are in shock, but when Luke Hadler is supposed to have committed the crime and then taken his own life, nobody is too surprised. With the pressures of life increased ten-fold with the lack of water, it is generally accepted that Luke Hadler just couldn’t take it anymore. With the responsibility of taking over his parent’s farm, a wife and two young kids, one just a baby, Luke was obviously under enormous strain and he just cracked.
The subsequent police investigation was of the same opinion….case closed!
Aaron Falk, returns back from the city of Melbourne to pay respects to his old school friend. Having not returned in nearly twenty years, Aaron intends to spend the minimal time possible in Kiewarra and just do his duty. Aaron Falk left the town under suspicious circumstances with his father after the death of a young girl. Aaron has always claimed his innocence but there are those among the community who think otherwise. Aaron arrives back not looking for trouble, with his head low and avoiding folk where possible. But in a town this size, this was never going to be an option and soon word has spread that Aaron Falk is back.
When Aaron Falk left Kiewarra, he never expected nor wished to return. Now a member of the financial division of the Melbourne police force, his memories of his old life are buried, or at least they were. One foot on the home soil and Aaron is immediately back to his youth. With sketchy memories, he recalls his misspent days with Luke and a few other kids. They were typical teenagers with first crushes, first kisses, first alcoholic drink, first love. But one day all that changed and for Aaron, life would never be the same again.
As Aaron looks a little closer at Luke’s death, and that of his family, he starts to unravel a few intriguing bits of information.The more he digs, he soon discovers that all is not what it seems. There is a web of lies and deceit buried deep in this town and it doesn’t take long for Aaron to discover that his search for the truth is not welcomed by some locals.
The Dry is a serious page-turner. It’s fast-paced, it’s riveting. It’s claustrophobic and it’s hot, blistering hot. Aaron Falk is a fabulous new protagonist. He is tough, yet with a vulnerability that we get glimpses of. He is a wonderful advocate for justice, leaving no stone unturned, as he searches for clues to clear his friend’s name, and his own.
The Dry is the perfect read really. It has everything you look for in a crime novel. It is a compelling, riveting story that conjures up very vivid imagery and takes you on a journey into a scorched landscape, where a rural community is struggling to survive and where hope for many is lost. Highly recommend!
Jane Harper has just released the second novel in the Aaron Falk series, Force of Nature, so grab your copy of The Dry folks and catch up!!!
~ The Dry
About Jane Harper:
Jane Harper was born in Manchester in the UK, and moved to Australia with her family at age eight. She spent six years in Boronia, Victoria, and during that time gained Australian citizenship.
Returning to the UK with her family as a teenager, she lived in Hampshire before studying English and History at the University of Kent in Canterbury. On graduating, she completed a journalism entry qualification and got her first reporting job as a trainee on the Darlington & Stockton Timesin County Durham.
Jane worked for several years as a senior news journalist for the Hull Daily Mail, before moving back to Australia in 2008. She worked first on the Geelong Advertiser, and in 2011 took up a role with the Herald Sun in Melbourne.
In 2014, Jane submitted a short story which was one of 12 chosen for the Big Issue’s annual Fiction Edition.That inspired her to pursue creative writing more seriously, and that year she applied for an online 12-week novel writing course.
She was accepted with a submission for the book that would become The Dry.
Jane lives in St Kilda with her husband and daughter.
Website ~ http://janeharper.com.au/
Twitter ~ @janeharperautho