Aaron Falk #1
January 10, 2017
The outback Australian farming town of Kiewarra has been suffering through years of drought. Businesses have closed, farms are failing, and the only really viable concern in town is the pub. Tempers are high, but everyone is shocked when a local farm family is shotgunned to death, and it appears that the father did it and then killed himself. The parents of the father, Luke Hadler, refuse to believe that he could have done such a thing. So they call in Aaron Falk, now an Australian Federal Agent specializing in financial crimes, to investigate. The last place on earth Aaron wants to be is Keiwarra. He, Luke, and Ellie Deacon were inseparable as children. The three formed a sort of adolescent romantic triangle as teenagers, and when Ellie was forcibly drowned in the river, Kiewarra decided that one or both boys must have done it. The two alibied each other, but Aaron has never been sure of Luke since Luke refused to say where he really was. The result was that Aaron and his widowed father were literally driven out of town. Luke managed to stay and put it all behind him.
The Dry is an intensely atmospheric thriller. One can feel the heat and see it shimmer off the roads. Kiewarra is a blasted landscape, ready to go up in flames, as are the townspeople. The novel is tightly plotted and filled with believable characters trapped in adverse circumstances, often of their own making. I picked up on the killer of Ellie pretty early on, but the person who killed the Hadler family was a real surprise. I don't know why The Dry sat so long on my "to be read" shelf. It is a most impressive first novel.