WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?
I just can't understand how someone like him could do something like that.
Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn't rained in small country town 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 the town of his youth 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 and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend's crime.
Oh my! What a stunning book! But, shame on me!! I've had 'The Dry' sitting in my library waiting to be read for two whole years. Had I known how good it is, I would have read it on the day I received it. And yes, it has absolutely lived up to the hype surrounding it, as far as I'm concerned.
Agent Aaron Falk begrudgingly returns from Melbourne to his hometown Kiewarra, a tiny speck in the middle of nowhere, a place from where he and his father were practically chased away two decades earlier. Falk is back to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke Hadler and his family. Luke, his wife Karen and six-year-old Billy were found all dead in an apparent murder-suicide. How did such horror happen? What could drive a family man to do the unthinkable? Did Luke really snap and slaughter his own family? Or was this the deed of someone else? But who could have wanted the Hadler family exterminated? And why?
It has not rained for two years in Kiewarra, the town is in the grips of the worst drought ever, and with the heat, tempers are bound to flare up. Falk's return stirs up old emotions, recriminations and suspicions among the townsfolk. Old wounds are reopened. Past horrors resurface. So, he's not exactly welcomed back by those remembering the events of twenty years previously. He, of all people, should not be here nosing about on what happened to the Hadlers. What he should do, instead, is tell the truth on what he and his father did twenty years back.
Well I can't believe this to be a debut novel. It's absolutely mesmerising. I have never read a book located in Australia, but hey, I felt as if I were there. Thanks to the author's vivid descriptions, I could almost feel the heat emanating off the dry land in every page. The melancholy and misery of the townsfolk dealing with not only the shortage of water but also the fear and horror taking place practically in their backyard was almost palpable. I was drawn into the story right from the brilliantly written, authentic prologue and I dreaded having to put down the book because of work and other real-life distractions. As I was immersed in the story, I could clearly visualise everything that was taking place around me. I loved the way the author expertly leaps through decades from one paragraph to the next, as the characters relive past episodes. Don't worry, the use of italics for past episodes eliminates any possible confusion. I also loved the fact that such episodes are given to us from different perspectives.
A brilliant, riveting prologue literally buzzing with blowflies; a pacy plot; twists and turns; engaging, realistic characters; impeccable story-telling; a fluent, articulate writing style and vivid descriptions ensured I was kept intrigued and on my toes in the town of Kiewarra throughout. The author expertly included a number of possible suspects but kept the mystery under wraps till the very end, nicely tying up all loose ends, even those that have waited decades to be tied, in neat little bows. Huge well done!
This is an outstanding book, I really enjoyed it and would highly, highly recommend it.
Jane Harper is the author of The Dry, winner of various awards including the 2015 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, the 2017 Indie Award Book of the Year, the 2017 Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year Award and the CWA Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of 2017. Rights have been sold in 27 territories worldwide, and film rights optioned to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea. Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne.