Australia is in the midst of coping with an extremely hot summer, Sydney and Brisbane experiencing the hottest January on record, February looking even hotter with the arrival of a heat wave and increased fire risks in Victoria and New South Wales (where currently 49 fires are burning across the state, 17 of which are not contained and the fire rating is at the level of “catastrophic”).
A situation that makes the context of Jane Harper’s new novel seem wearily appropriate.
The Dry is Jane Harper’s cracking debut crime fiction novel set in a fictional southeastern Australian town, suffering the effects of the ‘The Big Dry’, a nine-year drought.
The story follows Aaron Falk, a police officer from Melbourne, who returns to the town he and father were run out of many years back, for the funeral of his childhood friend Luke. It is clear he wants the visit over and done with as soon as possible and is unwilling to engage with anyone.
However Luke’s father is not happy with the way the police have handled his son’s apparent murder/suicide and asks Falk to stay and look into it.
With several twists, suspects and an intriguing back story of another death of a girl that occurred when the friends were teenagers, it sets a good pace, while exploring the effect of climatic conditions on a small rural community and the circumstances that cause others to seek out smaller towns as an escape.
Jane Harper is at work on her next novel, which also features the protagonist Aaron Falk.
I reviewed The Dry for Bookbrowse, where you can read the full review and a Beyond the Book article on The Big Dry.
Australia Swelters in Heatwave and argues about Energy Future – The Guardian, Friday 10 Feb, 2017
A Page-Turner of a Mystery Set in a Parched Australia – NY Times review