by Jane Harper
One of the latest in the current slew of thriller/who-done-its, The Dry opens with a grisly scene told from the perspective of a swarm of blowflies feasting on a freshly murdered family on a farm in Australia. It appears to be a murder-suicide carried about by longtime resident of the small town of Kiewarra, Luke Hadler. His wife and 6-year-old son are found brutally shot to death in their home, and Luke himself is found shot to death in the head, gun in hand, in the bed of his pickup truck. Only the Hadlers’ baby daughter was spared, and she’s too young to provide an account of what happened.Luke’s boyhood best friend, Aaron Falk, now a federal agent
Luke’s boyhood best friend, Aaron Falk, now a federal agent living and working in Melbourne, is summoned to the funeral by Luke Hadler’s father. Aaron has been gone from Kiewarra for twenty years, having fled town with his own father in the wake of another death which cast suspicion on Aaron and Luke. Now Falk is brought face to face with old secrets and the mistrust of the town in which he grew up. When Luke’s parents beg him to look into their son’s family’s deaths which is so easily being written off as a murder-suicide by the town, strange revelations begin coming to light, and suddenly nothing seems clear-cut.
Set against the backdrop of a severe drought which is causing the ruination of the farming community of Kiewarra, it’s a tinderbox of the literal variety, as well as the figurative.
I enjoyed this novel for what it was: a fast-paced, cleverly constructed story that keeps you guessing. It’s an impressive debut, though I’ve certainly read better thrillers. A little on the forgettable side, but engaging enough to keep you turning pages.