Australia has long produced some great mystery writers: Peter Temple, writing the Jack Irish series about a lawyer and gambler turned PI, as well as a number of standalone crime novels; Kerry Greenwood’s post-World War I series featuring private detective Phryne Fisher, to name just two. But in just the last year, authors from Down Under have delivered two new excellent mystery series.
The Dry by Jane Harper
Federal Agent Aaron Falk left his tiny hometown of Kiewarra 20 years ago after the suspicious death of a friend. Now he gets word that another friend from that time, Luke, and Luke’s family have all been killed. Luke’s dad sends Aaron a letter that simply says “Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral.” And so he returns home to try to figure out what happened, and to try and come to terms with the death of his friend two decades before. This has a great cast of characters, two interesting mysteries split across 20 years, and Harper writes so realistically of the drought-stricken Outback that you can practically feel the hot wind coming off the sheep farms.
Crimson Lake by Candice Fox
A year ago, Sydney detective Ted Conkaffey pulled over on the side of a rural road to adjust his fishing equipment; a girl at the bus stop nearby went missing at nearly the same time, and was found days later assaulted and left for dead. Ted was accused but not convicted of the crime, released from jail with no job, no family or friends, and no prospects. He fled north, to the steamy, swampy, crocodile-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake. At loose ends, struggling for money, his lawyer connects him with private investigator Amanda Pharrell, herself convicted of murder when she was a teenager. Ted and Amanda make uneasy partners, but jump in together on the case of a very successful local author who has gone missing. Fox weaves together an interesting current mystery (is murder-by-crocodile possible?), while also teasing aspects of Amanda and Ted’s pasts in a way that will leave you impatient for the sequel.
~ posted by Andrea G.