I’ve been reading Jane Harper’s latest book, The Lost Man, which is really excellent and I have to recommend it to everyone who likes a book with strong and interlinking story-lines, great characters, even greater tension and an unexpected ending.
This is what I wrote about her first book, The Dry:
I was delighted to share my enthusiasm for a book I finished a couple of days ago… I so often find I’m not enjoying books chosen for our book club, and other books recommended to me, that I was really thrilled to read ‘Holding’ by Graham Norton and be gripped, intrigued, moved, tickled, interested – a great book to the end, and a great ending too!
I have now started our book club’s book for September (I still have to read the July book!) and it’s another cracking good read! From the cool and damp Ireland of Graham Norton, to the fierce, torturing, deathly heat of Australia in a drought. It starts off a little low-key, despite the opening premise, a young couple and their little boy have been brutally murdered, it builds up to an absolutely un-put-downable book.
This is the Amazon blurb:
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.
The story is told from the detective Aaron Falk’s point of view, in an objective third person narrative, and then dipping back into the past when it’s told from a very personal point of view – young Aaron when he lived in the town and the victim was his best friend. I’m really impressed with the way the two stories, past and present, are woven together – very clearly so there is no muddle, and very distinctly with two perspectives from the same person – a teenager and a thirty-something. The characters are wonderfully drawn – impressive since most of them are men and the author is a woman. I am about halfway through and I have no idea what the solution is!
The other aspect of the book – an inanimate character, is the heat, the searing, devastating, cruel, torturing heat. Recently for book club we read two books set in the 1976 British heat wave, nothing like the brutal Australian version – but even so, the heat was a ‘character’ – but a feeble character, with words ascribed to it, but no claustrophobic sense of panic that the Australian ‘dry’ is depicted in ‘The Dry’. In this book by Jane Harper, even if you have never been to Australia, you are given a vivid picture of the landscape, buildings, vegetation, people, institutions such as the school and the bar – and yet is not laid on in great hefty chunks, but vividly painted into the background.
However it ends, and i have no idea, I really, really recommend it. I almost don’t want it to end, it is so good! No doubt it will be made into a film, I only hope it is as good!