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This is a crime fiction book set in very rural Australia.  The story opens with the scene of a murder, three it turns out, husband and wife and their 6 year old son.  Their baby girl was spared, or missed?

The scene is dealt with by local police as a murder / suicide and this is accepted because the situation for the people of rural Australia is really tough.  A relentless and ongoing drought means business are struggling to keep going and people are anxious, probably suicidal.  Luke Hadler taking a gun to his family is maybe no more than is expected.  Or is it?

Why didn’t he kill his little girl then?

Luke’s childhood friend, Aaron Falk, (now a policeman) is ordered back to the funeral by Luke’s father who tells him he knows he lied many years ago about the death of a young girl in the town and therefore expects him there as he wants to talk to him.

When Aaron was a teenager he and Luke were friends with a girl called Ellie.  Her dead body was found in the river weighed down by stones.  When the police investigated they found a note in her jeans pocket, still in her bedroom, with the date of her death written on it and just the word FALK.  Considered highly suspicious Luke made sure that Aaron had an alibi by telling him to say that they were together.  When Aaron was questioned by the police he stuck to the story.  Aaron’s Dad was then taken in for questionning.  

Within days father and son were hounded out of town by a community, headed by the girls’ father, who decided that evidence or not, they were responsible.  

Now, years later, Luke’s father wants Aaron to investigate the death of his son, daughter in law and grandson.  He knows that Luke and Aaron weren’t together on the afternoon of Ellie’s death because he saw Luke.  He wants to know if Luke has killed before and if Luke has killed now.  

Reticently Aaron works with the local police sergeant and they carry out their own investigation.  The sergeant is new to the town and comes from a long line of proud police officers.  He doesn’t think that Luke having been responsible sits quite right, for one why didn’t he kill his daughter and for another it appears that Luke’s wife was killed answering the front door.  Why would a husband knock on the front door?  

So the pair start examining the scene and speaking to the community.

Aaron’s return to the town does not go unnoticed though and he faces anger and hostile rumours as he tries to work professionally alongside the local police.  The new faces in town are more accepting of him but those that lived there when Ellie died are fairly vicious to him and he finds himself the victim of a leaflet campaign as well as damage being done to his car.  Local shopkeepers won’t even serve him even though their businesses are on their knees

I was recommended this book as a good crime fiction book to read and I have to say I’ll do the same for you.  This book is highly recommended as a really well plotted and well developed piece of crime fiction.  The story reads well, flows well and the characters are interesting and merit an emotional response at times.  I liked the characters, they seemed real.  It didn’t utterly grip me and it was easy enough to put down but it was an easy read, not too taxing or stressful and gave life to an interesting community.  It didn’t really sell rural Australia to me but then I guess crime novels aren’t meant to!  

If you like crime fiction then I think you’ll enjoy this one.  Definitely an author to add to the list.  A perfect beach read!