Need to Know: A cinematic, tense murder-mystery that probes at questions surrounding the lies and truths of friendship and the secrets we keep.
From the opening lines of The Dry—a gruesome meditation on the blowflies swarming around the dead bodies of the Handler family—to the last stirring, powerful lines, I was hooked into this murder-mystery. This book offers a tense, mesmerizing ride; it's an extraordinarily focused mystery that also manages to be tender and empathetic to many of its characters.
When the novel opens, Luke Handler, his wife, Karen, and their young son, Billy, have been shot and killed. All signs point to Luke as being the perpetrator of the murders. Aaron Falk, a police officer who lives in Melbourne and who was once Luke’s best friend, returns to Kiewarra for the funeral. While there, he’s enlisted by Luke’s parents to investigate what happened.
Complicating Aaron’s presence there is the fact that when he and Luke were teens, one of their closest friends, Ellie Deacon, was found dead. The people of Kiewarra suspected the two young men, but Luke and Aaron avoided any further suspicion by using the same alibi. The problem is that they weren't being honest about where they were the day that Ellie died.
The questions surrounding the whodunits drive the plot forward and double the tension. Could Luke have murdered his wife and son and killed himself? Are the Handler murders and Ellie’s death related in some way?
Underpinning all of these questions is the drought in Kiewarra, a drought that’s devastating the community. That’s making people act in unexpected ways. That’s creating near boiling conditions where anything could happen, particularly when the Handlers have just been killed and the person suspected of killing Ellie Deacon is walking in their community again.
The Dry is such a good mystery. Finely crafted and well-written, with a compelling plot that doesn’t skimp on thoughtful characterization. Some of the scenes in this book, particularly regarding the child Billy, are incredibly difficult to read; partly because, plot aside, these were characters that I cared about. But don’t let that stop you from reading this really great book.
About the Author
When my toddler and infant sleep--or are otherwise engaged--I write, read, and eat lots of chocolate.