This book by Jane Harper is set in a small farming community in north-west Victoria during a severe drought. The community, struggling to survive, is shocked when news spreads of the death of Luke and Karen plus Billy, their young son. Aaron Falk, a policeman with the Federal Police, now lives in Melbourne but travelled to Kiewarra for the funeral. He had grown up in the area and had been good friends with Luke until a mutual friend, Ellie, was found dead in the creek. Accusations that Aaron or his father were involved caused them to leave the town. Aaron soon discovers that his return to town is not welcomed by most of its citizens but Luke's parents ask him to stay for a while to try and find out what really happened. He agrees to work with local policeman, Raco, investigating the case unofficially.
I soon discovered that this crime novel was difficult to put down. You can feel the dust and desolation of the countryside struggling to survive in the drought. You also experience the tensions and mistrust in this small community struggling to comprehend what is happening. As we follow Aaron's attempts to discover what happened to his friend and why, we learn, via flashbacks, about the events and secrets of twenty years ago that continue to simmer beneath the surface and affect the life of the town. Although this is primarily a crime novel, it is also a study of people in a small outback community attempting to exist in extreme conditions. A great addition to the genre of Australian crime fiction.