Hardcover: The Dry by Jane Harper, 2016, 9781250105608.
I read a blurb on this from someone and tried the book out. This is well, well above average. Some excellent writing, pacing, and characters. The sense of place was not as strong as I was hoping for - rural farm town in Australia - but still quite enjoyable. Besides, no matter what Harper may have written about the land I will also think of the two lane blacktop and wheat fields of Mad Max.
Aaron Falk is a federal cop living in Melbourne who investigates financial crimes. He is about 36 years old and has not been back to his hometown in 20 years. We find out why Falk and his single dad left town before Falk graduated high school and, I must see, Harper does an excellent job telling the story. Harper did not tease things out too long for a Big Shocker Reveal! at the end. We already know a girl was killed and Falk fled forever. Harper as much focus on the contemporary crime and Falk's assistance with a sub rosa investigation.
Anyhoo. Here are more details. Falk's best pal from high school has been murdered in his farmhouse along with his wife and ten-year-old son. The family's infant daughter was spared. The dead man's father calls Falk up and demands Falk show to the funeral with a threat of "I know he lied for you."
Falk drives the several hours to town. The dead man's parents want Falk to look into things. After all Falk was on TV for taking down that investment crook, right? Falk makes friends with the local cop (one of only two) and helps ask around, snoops the crime scene, so on, so forth.
The police procedural plot moves alongside Falk's memories of former neighbors, the same neighbors who accused him of murdering a friend who was found drowned in a river with her pockets filled with rocks. Falk and his father left town in disgrace.
Falk has a few mixed feelings about most townspeople but does sport a boner for a hot chick and former pal. After his unpleasant hometown experience and his father's death Falk has crated no lasting romances or close friendships over the past 15 years. He does well at work but his last long-term girlfriend left him when he seemed like an empty suit. Falk sure doesn't want to stick around - he was hoping to leave immediately after the funeral. But, the dead mate's mother was often a surrogate mom to motherless Falk. A hug from her is a reminder of everything lacking for 30+ years. He wants to say yes to her and he wants to avoid the trouble the dead mate's dad threatens.
Give it a try. Really good stuff.