Thursday, 1 February 2018

Review: 'The Dry' by Jane Harper

The DryThe Dry by Jane Harper

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'The Dry' is meant to be the first of a series. Author Jane Harper will have a hard time coming up with a plot as good as this one is. I wish it was a stand alone book because what the plot does is sort out the main character's past and set him free. To me that's a complete and finished story. What else can one do with that character now? Still that's the author's problem. And she's a lovely tight writer with a sharp eye for thriller plot details.

'The Dry' is set in contemporary Australia, the action takes place in the drought stricken outback. Aaron Falk, who works for the government unravelling tax frauds receives a note saying his old friend, Luke, is dead, and demanding he come to the funeral. The past has reached out to terrify him. Twenty years ago as a teenager he was accused of murder, and Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father were chased out of town despite Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But they weren't, and now Luke is dead, and someone is threatening Falk.

What a great set up for a story and it carries on as cleverly. This author is no slouch when it comes to writing a tight and twisty plot for Falk and the local police officer are puzzled over Luke's supposed suicide and begin to investigate. And then all sorts of nasty little secrets start popping up and the murdered girl's family are intent on revenge.

The setting, a drought stricken farming community, only adds tension to the story and the author includes some lovely details of the outback and outback life.

Altogether a great read for any whodunit fan and well worth reading by any reader who likes a well written, better than most, unusually original story.

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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Review: The Sixteen Trees of the Somme

The Sixteen Trees of the SommeThe Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliant! And full marks to the translator who kept the rhythm and lyrical prose in his English translation. This really is a must read for the prose, the story and the ideas.

It's a good job the cover clearly states 'novel' because I could easily believe that this novel was faction, based on a true story. It isn't, but it ought to be! Set in Norway, and the Shetland Isles, with a brief trip to France and the Somme, author Lars Mytting's research is solid. He certainly got the upper middle class Scottish attitudes spot on. His descriptions of the battlefields are haunting.

I don't want to give away the plot or the importance of the sixteen trees because really the novel is about a young man growing up, breaking out of his shell, and becoming what he chooses to be.

Edvard is orphaned when he is three. He has vague memories and his grandfather won't tell him anything. After his grandfather dies he takes a physical journey to find out what happened and in doing so he has to make decisions and choices which will make him become the Edvard we hope he will become. He could easily have made different choices but we readers are glad he didn't.

It is a book to savour, reread and marvel over. Readers who like a good intelligent challenging read will enjoy this novel. I found myself thinking about it for days after I'd returned it to the library.

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