This is the debut novel written by Jane Harper won the Victorian premier’s unpublished manuscript award in 2015 and the British Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger award for the best crime novel of the year. It was not unexpected then that this book turned out to be a page turner.
Federal Agent Aaron Falk returned to his childhood town to attend the funeral of his friend Luke who had shot his wife and one child before turning the gun on himself. As a favour to Luke’s mother Aaron agreed to stay on to try to find why Luke had done it. In doing so his past ( a questionable death of a friend) came back to haunt him – the reason his father had removed them from the small town. With the use of flashbacks the two deaths are examined in tandem. I don’t intend to give anything away when it comes to the plot but it held my interest to the end and I didn’t suspect who did the who dunnit.
One aspect Jane Harper did extremely well was her description of the outback country town that is the setting. You can feel the dry, the heat, and the depression that goes along with drought in Australia. She also develops her characters well although I didn’t like that many of them, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
I would recommend this book to those that like crime thrillers – this was well written and kept you in suspense until the end — and those that want to get a feel for what it is like to live in a small-minded country town in Australia suffering from two years of drought. I saw it as predominantly a crime genre novel and as such I doubt that for me at least it will be memorable in years to come. As a good read for the moment – great.