Jo’s Pick of the Week: The Dry by Jane Harper

thedryJane Harper’s exceptional debut mystery crackles with suspense, intriguing characters and a strong sense of place.

Aaron Falk fled the small town of Kiewarra, Australia as a teenager with his father after townspeople suspected that one of them had killed Aaron’s friend, Ellie. Despite a lack of evidence against the Falks, Ellie’s father, Mal Deacon, harassed the father and son until they packed up and headed for Melbourne. Aaron left behind his best friend, Luke Handler, and tried to start a new life in the big city.

janeharperTwenty years have passed, and Aaron is a successful federal police investigator, far from the farm town he left. The past painfully comes back when he learns that Luke has killed his wife, son and himself. When he returns to Kiewarra for the funeral, he finds that the town he left is even more decrepit than before. A two-year drought has taken its toll on the farm economy, which in turn has devastated the little commerce the town once enjoyed. He soon encounters suspicious townsfolk who remember the whispered rumors that he had something to do with Ellie Deacon’s death. When Aaron visits Luke’s parents, they tell him they can’t believe Luke would kill his wife and son. Aaron soon teams up with the local police sergeant to dig deeper for the truth hidden among the townfolks’ secrets.

This Aussie crime thriller’s plot is full of twists and turns that kept me going until the end. I read that Reese Witherspoon has gotten the film rights for the book. The Dry would make a great film, but read the book first. I was pleased to learn on Jane Harper’s web site that she is working on a sequel starring Aaron Falk, a strong character I want to know more about.

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