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The Dry Paperback – 28 Feb 2017
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About the Author
Jane Harper is the author of the international bestsellers The Dry, Force of Nature, and The Lost Man. Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with film rights sold to Bruna Papandrea. Jane has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year. Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne with her husband and daughter.
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Well Jane Harper needs an editor. With in this book are 3 major errors.1 of these rather spoils her solution to the murder the other 2 just upsets pendits like me. We will start with the least important. As a book written about Australia she should have realized that here in the bush we have a verandah not a porch....second if you are going out to shoot rabbits you would go in the early morning or the dusk. At lunch time any bunny will be in his burrow keeping cool....actually if you seriously want to try and get rid of Peter Rabbit your method will be a little less kind than a gun....and now the major mistake. The victim is using ,and shot by ,a shotgun. A shotgun uses cartridges not bullets. Sorry Jane but that rather spoils the ending though a bit of thought and a few rewritten chapters would set things right.
I shall still read her next book because she can write but I hope the next one actually makes sense.
Can the folks in Kiewarra put the past behind them when Aaron Falk rolls back in to town? Probably not, seeing as he’s here for his former friend Luke’s funeral, not by choice mind you. No, he was summoned by a note telling him he lied, and Luke lied. To make matters worse Luke is being accused of killing his wife and young son before turning the gun on himself. However, Luke’s mother thinks something more sinister happened and wants Aaron to investigate. Tempers are flaring because people remember the death of a young girl 20 years ago, and the connection to both Luke, and Aaron, which makes the whole situation that much worse.
Aaron Falk is a new concept as a financial crimes detective caught up in the apparent suicide of his childhood friend after killing his family.
Returning home for the funeral his friends parent ask him to investigate. On the property he finds Sergeant Raco has doubts that it happened the way it seems.
There are a multitude of story lines and for each there is a suspect. The main other story is the death of a girl 20 years before where Aaron is implicated by a lie for an alibi worked out with the dead man. There are elements of a Greek tragedy with the unknown always out of reach.
There ate some minor issues and Jane tries to insert red herrings but doesn't always succeed. The final showdown is a bit overblown than necessary but overall this is fine book.
I live in a small town, thankfully not quite like this one, I know how drought feels, it was in this very book! Skillful, twisting & turning, & too real for this author to have not been born & bred in our "outback"!.......but she wasn't. Again I say, brilliant
Top international reviews
One of the many strengths of the novel is that it so effectively creates a sense of place, which gives it a lot in common with the Nordic noirs which are so popular with readers, though where the abiding image of Nordic thrillers are the desolate snowscapes, Harper's book operates in the polar opposite. It's Outback noir and the parched desolate landscape of the book goes a long way in creating a sense of dread. The land is dying before our eyes, people are living in a state of poverty and hopelessness so it is no wonder that violence soon flares up.
The novel opens with a swarm of blowflies swarming around the bodies of a mother and son, who were butchered in their own home in a seemingly straight forward murder/suicide. Luke Hadler, driven mad by years of drought seems to have shot both his wife and son before turning the gun on himself.
Melbourne based policeman, Aaron Falk spent his childhood in the town of Kiewarra but he and his father had to leave town after the death of a young girl - actually, they were driven out of town when suspicion regarding the young girl's death fell on Aaron. And now years later Aaron returns to the town for the funeral of Luke and his family and becomes involved in an unofficial investigation into the so called murder/suicide. Why for instance did Luke, assuming he saw a hopeless future for himself and his family not kill his infant daughter before turning the gun on himself? Why just his wife and young son?
Falk teams up with local policeman, Sergeant Raco (as likable a character as you can meet in crime fiction) and together the duo start investigating. At the start of the book there is doubt sown in the reader's mind over the involvement Falk may have played in the death of the young girl all those years ago, and this story in a secondary mystery that runs alongside the main storyline. I've called the book Outback Noir, as to some extent it is but this is basically a crime novel in the classic style with a myriad of twists and turns to throw the reader before the thrilling and logical conclusion plays out.
Of course I might be completely insane and the rest of Humanity might find this well written [NO], plausible [NO] and entertaining [definitely NO].
The main character, Aaron Falk, is a police federal investigator, who specialises in financial crime. Now based in Melbourne, he returns to his outback hometown of Kiewarra, suffering from years of drought, to attend the funeral of his childhood friend, Luke Handler.
Luke apparently murdered his wife and young son before turning the gun on himself. Only his baby daughter was spared.
Jane Harper creates an undercurrent of tension and mystery from the very first pages of her novel. We learn Falk was reluctant to go back to Kiewarra when he produces a note from his pocket only eight words in length ‘Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral.’ The letter was written by Luke handler’s father, who has his suspicions about the truth behind the murder-suicide.
Falk begrudgingly agrees to dig deeper into what may have happened. He teams up with local police officer Raco and begins looking into why some of the townsfolk may have wanted Luke dead. He is also forced to consider the possibility of a link to the events which forced him to leave the farming community under a dark cloud over twenty years ago.
Jane Harper’s descriptions of the arid Australian landscape are so realistic they are tangible. She depicts a community struggling to survive, yet it is not all about poverty. All of the characters are bright and vibrant. There are the gossips, the wizened farmers, the young getting through only by drinking, the ex-pat pub landlord, the single mum who was once the school beauty, the teacher. There are no stereotypes. The fears and concerns Harper presents each person as having are relative to any community.
I particularly liked the way Harper presented flashbacks within the book. By making them succinct, at pertinent points and written in Italics gave the feeling of watching a flashback shown in a film. It was cleverly done and pushed events onwards.
The story kept me guessing until the end and I was not at all disappointed at the end, either.
Aaron Falk, a federal police officer, arrives in Kiewarra, a drought stricken rural town, for the funeral of his school friend. It has been twenty years since Aaron left. The heat is oppressive, the land dry as tinder and the people are angry about the effects of the drought on their lives. Luke Hadler, his wife and son are dead. The evidence suggests that Luke killed his family, then turned the gun on himself. However, not everyone believes the verdict. Luke’s baby daughter was left untouched. Falk also has his own problems, as he finds himself unwelcome in the town; twenty years ago he was a suspect in an unsolved drowning and people in the town have long memories. He plans to only stay a day, but Luke’s parents ask him to look at the case again. Instead he finds himself helping the local police and once again facing angry accusations.
The setting and atmosphere were so well-written: the strength sucking heat, the lack of water and the despair all felt tangible. I pictured myself right there in the dust, thirsty for a drink and deeply saddened by the human struggle to survive in such conditions. On top of this were the appalling murders in a community where few could keep secrets. They touched everyone and moved me as I read the story.
The unravelling of the murders was good, with plenty of twists, but for avid readers of the genre it might be easy for them to spot the culprit. I didn’t mind the slow pace of the investigation as clues were unpicked from the complex story sewn into the community. For me it was the harsh baked dry land that will stay with me for a long time.
Altogether an excellent read with believable and sympathetic characters. The Australian context adds an interesting additional dimension to the story as well.
This non-fiction book is something of a niche interest, to say the least. Most of us will know something about the German SS, whether the battlefield atrocities they committed, how they served in concentration camps, or the combat exploits of the Waffen SS. This long book (384 pages) examines the formation, background and organisation of the Nazi SS in great detail.
Starting shortly after the end of WW1, the rise of Hitler’s National Socialist Party is covered, as well as the creation of the SA, which led to the offshoot organisation, the SS. All the leading political figures of the day are examined, as well as many minor officials and their roles in the building of the controlling Nazi state that followed. The book goes on to discuss the roles that SS figures played before and during WW2, adding some photos and background details about the war in general, and specific events like the invasion of The Soviet Union, in 1941.
The use of SS units to execute prisoners, kill civilians, and fight partisans is contrasted by the political machinations of their members on the home front, and in the countries occupied by Germany. We also learn about the collaborators, the foreign volunteers, and the often brave and distinguished combat units that fought to the very end, in 1945. Then the author goes on to look at those who escaped justice, and those who faced trial for their involvement in the SS, and its actions.
Much of the book contains lists of units, with the German names translated for the benefit of non-German readers. Numerous individual characters are highlighted, from the top leaders of the organisation, down to some who were little more that murderers in uniform. Chilling totals of the deaths they were responsible for, and the crimes committed in both concentration camps, and after battles in the field.
This is not a book for everyone of course. But given the current world political situation, it serves to remind us just what ‘ordinary’ men can be capable of.
As an historical record, it has great value.
Aaron stays on, reluctantly, after the family funeral and informally helps the local police during which we learn of his own complex history in Liewarra and another death 20 years before.
A very satisfying read. Atmospheric with believable characters and a deep feeling of time and place. Feeling at a loss since the last page.
I've just ordered another book by Jane Harper.
It is set in Kiewarra, a hot, desolate, bakingly dry town in the Australian outback. The description reaveals hot the starkness of hot, empty fields stretching as far as the eye can see is echoed in a community on the very edge!
Faulk (the main protagonist) and Sergeant Raco, are two of the most likeable characters and one feels honoured to be introduced. Faulk returns to his hometown Kiewarra after being run out of town as a teen, on circulating suspicions about his part in a girls death. His father accompanies him and it is sad to see a middle-aged man leaving behind the land and farm his grandparents built up, to relocate to a city in which he never quite fits in. Faulk returns to the town as an adult reigned in by a letter he receives from his old best friend's dad 'Luke lied. You lied'. They are burying Luke, his wife, and child.....a suspected murder by Luke who then takes his own life.
All the characters are well rounded and believable. This is the kind of book I did not want to come to an end; the characters still seeming to continue their lives in Kiewarra and Melbourne even though the chapters remain unwritten. I am glad to have caught a glimpse of their lives and I recommend this book to all who like crime thrillers.
The opening quote sums up the setting for the story, the bleakness of the landscape, and the crime: 'It wasn't as though the farm hadn't seen death before, and the blowflies didn't discriminate. To them there was little difference between a carcass and a corpse'.