AWF18: The Dry – Jane Harper

AWF18: The Dry – Jane Harper

‘British-born Australian writer Jane Harper worked as a journalist before penning the CWA Gold Dagger and AIBA winning international hit novel The Dry, subsequently optioned by Reese Witherspoon.’ Chair: Kathy Hunter

Illustrated notes by Tara Black

AWF18 10 The Dry

Illustrated notes copyright Tara Black

Jane Harper also appears, alongside Megan Dunn, Brannavan Gnanalingam and Briar Wood in:
Elemental
Sun, 20 May 2018 10:30am – 11:20am
Limelight Room, Aotea Centre

The Dry
Published by Pan Macmillan
ISBN 9781925481372

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Book Review: Force of Nature, by Jane Harper

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_force_of_natureThis is the much-anticipated second novel from Jane Harper. Her debut, The Dry, won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript and the film rights were snapped up. Jane Harper lives in Melbourne and has worked as a print journalist in Australia and the UK for thirteen years.  I loved her debut and was keen to see if her second novel was as engaging. I was not disappointed.

In Force of Nature, we once again meet Aaron Faulk, a Federal Police Agent working in the rugged outback of Australia (he in The Dry, and too good to be a one-novel wonder). He is asked to help to search for a woman missing in the bush. While five women embark on a corporate team building exercise, only four make it out three days later. For Faulk, this is more than a missing person case, as the woman is his key source for an investigation into her employer’s dealings.

Faulk is a man troubled by his past, a little of which was exposed in The Dry. We again glimpse his background through a series of tramping maps left to him by his late father. These maps include the area of the search, and Faulk is forced to recall his memories and ] re-evaluate his ideas about his father.

The Australian landscape is very much a part of this story. The bush, the mountains and the struggle to exist in a small town. I like Harper’s style. She keeps the pace up but manages to capture patterns of speech and the guilt of survivors. As the story unravels, we discover all is not as it first appears. There are tensions within the family company, and suspicions among the staff. This is the stuff of an excellent crime novel.

Force of Nature is a great Australian crime novel because we are drawn into a world where land and man work together to reveal the truth. This is the Christmas novel that will be passed around our family and never actually make it back to me.

by Kathy Watson

Force of Nature
by Jane Harper
Published by Macmillan
ISBN 9781743549094

Book Review: The Dry, by Jane Harper

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_dryThis is a crime novel which grips from the opening chapter. Forget the grime-filled American streets, the bleak northern English towns. Here we have small town Australia, the town of Kiewarra, with drought on the farms and drought in the outlook of the residents.

Aaron Falk was brought up in this town and returns to attend the funeral of his childhood mate. The circumstances of his departure and the links to recent events in the town, form the basis of this grim tale. Here the prejudices run deep and memories of past wrongs are still vivid to the townsfolk. While Aaron is now a Federal Police Investigator, based in Melbourne, this visit is unofficial and he has no intention of staying or of looking deeper at the circumstances of his friend’s death.

His visit is intended to last one day, but at the request of an old friend who is not convinced of the cause of death, he stays. Childhood memories and current events show connections which Aaron cannot dismiss as coincidence. Are the three deaths really murder-suicide, and why was a young child left alive?

This is a first novel for Jane Harper, but the superb interplay of character, plot, past and present, is handled like a pro. She manages to weave images of drought through setting and characters. It is not a self-conscious construct, but a genuine feel for the land and the community. The unpublished manuscript was awarded the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Award.

I loved this book. It seemed to capture the unspoken feelings which are so much a part of Australian and New Zealand small towns. The pioneering forbears left us with a work ethic which results in unspoken acceptance of tragedy. Aaron Falk challenges this and I am left hoping for another story about him from Jane Harper.

Reviewed by Kathy Watson

The Dry
by Jane Harper
Published by Macmillan Aus
ISBN 9781743548059