No summer is complete if you haven’t spent a large portion of it ploughing through a page-turning thriller. This year I chose The Dry by Jane Harper – a gripping murder mystery set in small-town Australia. After a farmer turns a gun on his family and then himself, a journey to uncover the truth behind the deaths commences. Named ‘Crime Book of the Month’ by the Sunday Times, and branded a ‘breathless page-turner’ by the New York Times, I was expecting a riveting read, and I didn’t find myself disappointed.
Harper wastes no time in setting the scene with a quintessential representation of the Australian Outback. We are met with a blistering drought, clusters of scrawny livestock, and the tiny town of Kiewarra shimmering beneath a scorching sky. Not only is it deadly hot, and eerily remote, but in an isolated farmhouse just out of town lies the bloodied remains of the Hadler family, attracting clouds of blowflies.
Enter our protagonist. Born and bred in Kiewarra, policeman Aaron Falk finds himself returning to the backwoods town after what seems like a lifetime, having been forced to relocate to Melbourne following the suspicious death of his friend Ellie two decades ago. Thinking he’d put history firmly behind him, Falk is about to find himself revisiting some of his most stifled memories.