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Falk has only returned because Luke’s Old Man knows that Falk lied about something important twenty years before when he also lived in this backwater town. Did I say backwater? No water would be more accurate because Australia is suffering from an El Niño drought and the atmosphere is incendiary.
Falk and the actual local cop, Raco, look into CCTV, old photos, ballistics and financial records, interview suspects and take a long time to get to the truth as everyone in Kiewarra has a secret or a nasty, mean streak.
Along the way there’s a double reveal: what happened to Ellie twenty years ago and what happened to Luke and his family.
Happily I can report that I didn’t guess the ending in advance and that is rare these days. Jane Harper has written a nuanced first novel in the whodunnit genre. Recommended.