First, The Dry.
In short order, Aaron returns home to the small town he grew up in, as a government agent in white-collar, financial crimes. His oldest friend has killed his own family, then himself- but Aaron can’t reconcile those actions with the man he was friends with. Sideline investigations ensue, with people from Aaron’s past stepping in.
Let me kick this off by saying: I LOVE THE AUSTRALIAN VERNACULAR. I actually had to Google a few words and, man, did that make me happy. (I.e.: a “huntsman” is a particular species of spider.)
Also, the overall landscape of this local drought really set. the. mood. Goodbye to moody settings with lots of rain and darkness and mist. Hello to: “This community is desperate. The land is brutally stripped.”
The characters were a mixed bag – and we get to know them as a reader, without really getting to know them. I know some people want to know the full spectrum, ins-and-outs of main characters but I sort of enjoyed not knowing everything about them and only receiving details in small doses. It urged me on. Kept me reading laaaaaate into the night.
The mystery of the murder/suicide fleshed out really nicely, in my humble opinion. I don’t typically read a ton of contemporary/thriller/crime (so, I’m no expert) but I liked how each chapter made me second guess a certain character’s motivation or emotions. Each chapter had me thinking: “Okay, wait, maybe HE did it.”
Secondly, Force of Nature.
This one could easily be read as a standalone without having to pick up The Dry but I wouldn’t suggest it. Aaron is just a piece of the puzzle in The Dry while Force of Nature lets us get closer to him and his heart.
This time Aaron is investigating a corporate retreat gone wrong and a serial murderer’s long-hidden base camp being discovered in the process. He’s there for under the table information and finds his “informant” lost in the harsh land surrounding a mountain range.
Complete change of setting.
Complete change of crime.
Same dry humor and compassion from Falk.
And, while the characters didn’t suck me in quite like The Dry – FoN was dense with FEAR and URGENCY. Very different pace and rhythm from the first installment.
Harper’s writing has a grit and bite to it. Both books received (4) paw ratings on the Brown Dog Book Review scale. Check out the rating system over at the homepage of Brown Dog Book Review!