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 20 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.
©2016 Jane Harper (P)2016 Hachette Audio UK
As a recently retired "young" pensioner! I now have more time to read and listen to Audio Books as I renovate my house in Spain.
A really good listen, set in the Australian outback where it hasn't rained for two years and everyone is feeling the strain and pressure of a town that's slowly dying in the heat and the locals are unable to stop it ! Arron returns for his friends funeral and has to stay to solve three murders of the present and one of twenty years ago. Well worth the price!
Kiewarra has been suffering from drought for a couple of years now with no sign of rain coming soon. The farmers are worried, many having to kill their livestock for lack of water, and the knock-on effects are being felt through the town. As tensions rise, a tragedy occurs – Luke Hadler shoots his wife and young son, and then kills himself. Or so it seems, but Luke's parents can't accept that their son would have done this awful thing. So when Luke's childhood friend Aaron Falk turns up for the funeral, they ask him to look into it. Falk is now a police detective working in the financial crimes section in Melbourne. It's twenty years since he was last in Kiewarra, when he and his father left the town under a cloud of suspicion after another death. Many of the townsfolk are unhappy to see him back...
I'm in the highly unusual position of being unable to find a single thing to criticise about this book! So get ready for a dull review – or here's a better idea, skip the review and read the book instead.
The writing is great – Harper conjures up this drought-ridden and anxious community brilliantly, showing the deep connection between man and nature in a town that relies on its farmers for survival. There's are some dark descriptions right from the start, with blowflies being the first to find the bodies of Karen and her little son, Billy, but Harper stops well short of being gratuitously gruesome – the balance is just about perfect.
I liked Falk as a character very much, so am rather glad to see that the book is listed as the first in a series. Although he had to face a terrible incident in his past, he hasn't allowed it to make him either embittered or angst-ridden. He's professional and intelligent and is someone I'd happily spend more time with. The new local policeman Raco, too, is a refreshing character – a happily married man looking forward to the birth of his first child, he treats people with respect and uses his brains rather than his brawn to get to the truth. And the characterisation is just as good of the other townspeople – from Luke's grieving parents, to Aaron's childhood friend Gretchen, to the people who still hold Aaron responsible for what happened back in the past – a whole range from nice to nasty, and each equally convincing.
The plot is strong and well-executed; the familiar device of a crime from the past resurfacing in the present feeling fresh because of the skill in the telling. Raco also has doubts about Luke's guilt, because of a couple of things that don't make sense to him. His main issue is that little baby Charlotte survived, and he's convinced that if Luke had decided to destroy his family out of desperation, he'd have killed the baby too. So Raco and Falk team up, and as they investigate the current crime, the shadows of the past loom ever larger. Harper plants false trails all the way through – I freely admit that I suspected everyone in turn, but was still surprised by the solution. And yet it feels totally fair – all the clues are there and, when the reveal comes, it's completely credible. Add to all this one of the best and most original thriller endings I've read in a long time, and you can see why I'm at a loss to find anything to grumble about.
I part read this book and part listened to it on the Audible audiobook version narrated by Stephen Shanahan. Annoyingly, I can't fault it either! Shanahan's narration is the perfect complement to the book. He has a lovely Australian accent, but not at all broad enough to be difficult for non-Australians – it reminded me a little of Pat Cash's accent. He doesn't exactly “act” all the parts, but he manages to differentiate between the different voices. There is one Scottish character, and I was impressed by the accuracy of his Scottish accent.
One thing I really liked was that Shanahan used a “younger” voice for Aaron in the sections set in the past – a little quicker and lighter than the voice of adult Falk in the present. And, whether intentional or not, Harper also made this an easier listen than some audiobooks, by calling the young version Aaron and the present version Falk throughout, which was a huge help in clarifying which period we were in. On the printed page, the past sections are in italics, but of course, this is no help when listening. It would be great, now that audiobooks are becoming such a big thing, if more authors thought about how to differentiate for a listening audience as well as a reading one.
All-in-all, a brilliant read and an excellent listen! I'm enjoying the read/listen experience in general – a good narration adds another level to the characterisation and for books set elsewhere it also means you get the correct pronunciation of place names and so on. This one will undoubtedly turn up in my best of the year list, but don't wait till then – grab it if you can!
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Little, Brown Book Group Ltd., and the audiobook was provided for review by Audible via MidasPR.
Audiobook and radio drama addict. Parent to two young children, ostomate and children's author. Somerset, UK.
Apart from the delightfully awful 'Scottish' accent (not even deserving of the 'ish', but so bad it was funny), this book was excellently narrated and well written. It did get a tad stodgy in the middle, as books often do, but I was hooked enough to want to know whodunnit. With two separate mysteries in the plot, one past and one present, it was a rich story. I thought the claustrophobic small town setting worked well. Thumbs up.
I understand this was Jane Harper’s first foray into the book market, and what an entrance.
This book has you hooked from almost the minute you start listening and I found it difficult to put down.
Narration was perfect for this book.
My only complaint, and its a minor one in the overall scheme of things, is that I found the ending to be a little weak. Its a personal thing, but I like to see the perpetrator of a particularly heinous crime brought to book and I didn’t feel this to be the case.
That said, it does not detract from the overall force of the book.
A really believable story full of brooding tension and atmosphere. The pace of the story was maintained throughout and a very satisfactory ending.
Painter, jeweller, teacher. Passionate listener to audiobooks and reader of print books.
Overall a good story with some interesting characters. This is a good beach listen with a sympathetic main character who I expect will be making a return appearance. You can't go wrong with this story of murder in the Outback - and it joins an increasingly impressive list of Australian thriller writers and story tellers.
I haven't read the book but the audio book was excellent. Listened to it every night and was completely caught up in the storyline. Great narration also
No I have not
The moment when Aaron and the detective ran toward Scott with their jackets open
Loved this audio book
The narration and story were very well delivered.
The sense of returning reluctantly to your past is brilliantly shared and expressed in this story. The main character and his story engaged me from the beginning and I didn.t want to stop listening I binged over two nights!!!
I immediately looked to see if there were any other books by this author, looking forward to reading more of Jane Harpers work,
Certainly I would recommend it. It has everything, a compelling story and great characters who are entirely believable. Well told too.
The way past and present came together to give us a great tale, giving us more about the characters and their stories as wellas many hidden secrets. There was at the same time an air of sadness and one of menace.
No one scene stood out, they were all good.
I will certainly belooking out for more from this author.
"loved it! "
what a wonderful read, I was riveted, and great to hear it wirh an Australian accent.
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