Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Dry - Jane Harper

Sent to me by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Publisher: Little, Brown 2016

Release Date: 12/01/17

Copyright: Jane Harper, 2016

ISBN: 978-1408708170

Format: Hardback, 342pp

Genre: Crime/Mystery

Rating: 4/5

Summed up in a few words
Murder. History. Family. Secrets.

First Impressions
Thank you to Little, Brown for including Always Trust In Books on the blog tour for The Dry by Jane Harper. There are so many great blogs pitching in to give this book all the attention it deserves, so please go and check out as many as you can. The Dry is Jane Harper's debut novel, it fuses together aspects of murder mystery, small town politics and horrific human behaviour. The Dry caught my attention from the get-go and I ended up reading it in (almost) one sitting. JH uses a mixture of expertly crafted plot reveals and emotional/personal character interactions to invite the reader to become part of Aaron Falk's hunt for the truth.

Book Synopsis
Australia is in the grip of its worst drought in a century, and it hasn't rained in the small country town of Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke's death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past bubble to the surface as he investigates the truth of his friend's crime.

The Dry is a story of desperation, resolution and small-town prejudice, played out against the blistering extremes of life in a ravaged land. (Official Synopsis)

My Thoughts
The tension in Kiewarra, Australia is at breaking point even before Aaron Falk sets foot back into his home town to attend the funeral of a close childhood friend. The never-ending drought that continues to torture the town and a horrific triple murder-suicide involving the Hadler family has everyone scared, angry and confused. Aaron Falk's presence in the town only escalates the intensity as he brings back memories of the unforgettable death of a teenage girl that drove Aaron and his father out of their home and all the way to Melbourne 20 years ago.

Luke Hadler was Aaron's best-friend growing up and being back shakes Aaron to the core. After the funeral and before Aaron can leave town, Luke's father gets in contact and begs him to help with the investigation into the deaths of the Hadler's. Gerry Halder does not believe that his son is capable of murdering his family but with the town's dark past still looming over them all, he can't be sure.

The Dry is brimming with secrets, mystery and madness. Aaron agrees to look into the circumstances surround Luke's death and it doesn't take long to see that things don't add up. Aaron has to confront the past, the town, the heat and the fear knotting in his gut. The town want him gone, but as everyone has secrets, he owes it to Luke to find out what really happened that day on the Hadler farm.

Jane Harper has written a fantastic debut and I was both impressed with The Dry and slightly appalled by it. A combination of outstanding plot developments/reveals, a gripping story and an addictive writing style kept me reading all the way through to the end in no time. The reason I was appalled was the overly graphic nature of some of the content. I felt that one death in particular was implied enough throughout the duration of the book and did not need to be described out-right. 

The Dry keeps the reader invested by leading them into a labyrinth of secrets, misinformation and community resolve; revealing the bigger picture through broken memories, investigations and interrogation. The characters and the setting are one and the same. Everything that happens in Kiewarra happens to its people and they are not a forgiving bunch. News travels fast, people change their stories and those who have been hurt never forget.

Aaron is a strong lead character, he doesn't want to be in town and is definitely not keen to re-open his past with Luke or investigate the death of his family. This leaves him in a difficult position, Aaron owes it to the people in town who protected him during the fallout over Ellie's death all those years ago to find out if Luke Hadler was truly able to murder those that he loves. Unfortunately, even if he wants to return to that time in his life, there are people in town who will go to great lengths to prevent him from doing so.

I was captivated by this book, mesmerised by how far a community will go to move on from tragedy and what individuals will do to protect themselves from harm. If Jane Harper can keep up the momentum that she has established here, she'll have an exciting and successful career. There are elements of mystery, crime, horror and thriller in The Dry, it caters to a wide array of readers and I recommend it to all those reading this post!

Overall, The Dry was a strong piece of fiction, there is mystery, terror and a solid main character who is fighting himself, the community and the dead for answers to what happened to the victims of the tragedies that occurred in scorched fields of Kiewarra. There is heavy graphic content so beware, but it is necessary to a certain degree to complete the story and really shock the reader. Thank you for reading this review as part of the January blog tour for The Dry or just checking it out in general.

Pick up a copy of The Dry on the 12th of January here: Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads 

About the Author: Jane Harper has worked as a print journalist for thirteen years in Australia and the UK. She live in Melbourne and currently writes for Herald Sun. Jane is originally from the UK and moved to Australia in 2008 where she won the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2015. The Dry is her first novel.

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