This is one of the more frustrating books I have read lately. A talented writer with an intriguing plot, and a story bogged down by a ridiculous amount of characters make for a confusing, convoluted read.
A woman is found dead in the river, and shortly after a teenage girl is found in the river as well. Are these deaths suicides, or something more malicious? It’s been said that the river is a place to get rid of difficult women…
I was initially drawn in to this story and the fates of these women, but it quickly started to fall flat. As I mentioned, there are way too many characters in this book, and they are primarily women making it even more difficult to keep everyone straight. A simple character map at the beginning of the book would have helped immensely!
Hawks created a chilling atmosphere that I was so ready to get behind, but I was so disconnected with this story that it just wasn’t enough to save this for me. There are a few notably powerful passages within, but overall, this was a huge disappointment. I wont be comparing this to its blockbuster predecessor, because while I liked that book more, I believe that every novel should be able to stand on its own.
I found that I had to force myself to finish the book, and I considered quitting with just 50 pages left to go. I powered through to the end, but unfortunately it offered nothing much in terms of redemption. Something about seaside / small towns always resonates with me, so 2 stars for a promising concept and great atmosphere.
From the publisher:
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.
Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.
I finished this book just minutes ago, so I am writing this while my heart is still racing – this is a stunning, fresh debut from Jane Harper.
Kiewarra, a small Australian farming town, is suffering through a drought that has the residents on edge with tensions running high. When a horrific triple homicide is committed leaving nearly an entire family wiped out, Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of his old friend and his family. Falk, however, is not welcome back in Kiewarra – wounds have not yet healed from a decades old tragedy and small town life has lead to anger, resentment, and long kept-secrets. Falk’s presence brings up old memories and new questions, and he soon realizes that he can’t leave Kiewarra again until he’s exhausted all efforts to uncover the mystery behind the two crimes.
Falk is our sole narrator, and I enjoyed traversing this mystery through his eyes. Most of the thrillers I have been reading these days are narrated from multiple perspectives, and I appreciated Harper’s clean approach. We learn about the other players through short flashbacks, which are just enough to mix up the story-line and quietly reveal significant details along the way. I loved that there were no major red herrings in this book – I felt deeply invested in uncovering the truth, and never felt misled after the big reveal. The conclusion is shocking and sad – you may guess who committed the crimes, but I can guarantee you will not guess the reasons why.
This gets a high rating from me for being an absorbing and fresh approach to the thriller genre. I am so excited to see that GoodReads is listing this book as “Aaron Falk #1” – I would love to read this character again!