You can’t really discuss Australian crime fiction without mentioning Jane Harper’s first book. It has been
Is Anyone Surprised?
You will have your own reasons for liking (or not liking) this book. I’m interested in how thoughtful readers react to things. Please email me or comment.
Of course, there’s the vivid and convincing evocation of place — the shimmering, crackling suffocating heat of a small town in central Australia. Harper’s setting just leaps out at you. But we can discuss setting another time.
A Classical Mystery
For me The Dry represents something else. It’s a mystery following a very classical model and its success demonstrates again …
this is what crime readers love.
The Dry is concerned with two murder events, set twenty years apart and it delivers an intriguing and carefully constructed puzzle. The game is played well and fairly.
It’s actually hard to write about this in a concrete or interesting way, without spoilers. So sorry if what follows is a bit … well, dry.
All the Good Things
Harper provides a fair array of clues, and there are plenty of the classics: retrieved and re-interpreted memories, old photographs, slips of paper hidden in books, physical clues that need to be analysed, a confused elderly person saying things that might be meaningful, unexplained tensions and episodes of violence that contaminate the truth.
You, the reader, are reminded of the clues from time to time, to keep you constructing and re-constructing threads and possible solutions.
There is even a satisfying key moment involving the meaning of a word.
Which is the most compelling clue for you?