September started brilliantly, with me finishing two amazing books over the first weekend. Unfortunately, the next book I started is still sitting on my bedside table, unfinished, almost a month later.
That’s partly down to the book itself and the fact that it has failed to capture my imagination, but it’s also down to a busy month that hasn’t left me with much time or energy spare to read.
Still, I’m determined to finish the book – it seems like a waste to get this far and not read to the end.
So, what were the two books I loved in September?
The Dry, by Jane Harper
After his childhood best friend shoots dead his wife and son, before turning the gun on himself, Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to the isolated farming community where he grew up in the Australian outback.
It’s a town that’s visibly suffering from the drought that supposedly drove his old friend, Luke, to slaughter his family, only sparing their infant daughter. But Luke’s father is determined to prove that his son wasn’t responsible and he wants Aaron to help prove it, even if that means using an old secret as leverage to get what he wants.
With the locals keen to drive him out of town once again, Aaron begins to investigate the brutal killings and soon finds that this is a town full of unpleasant secrets and things might not be as clear cut as he first thought.
I’ve been seeing rave reviews of this debut crime novel for a while now, but I made a conscious choice to cut back on my crime fiction after reading so many mediocre mysteries over the last couple of years. But I’m glad I gave this one a chance.
Harper’s novel perfectly captures the dusty, claustrophobic Australian town that simmers with resentment and economic struggle. It’s a place full of small town mind sets, rough men who are stuck in tired ways of thinking, suspicious of anything or anyone different.
The story slips between the present day investigation into the deaths of Luke and his family, and the drowning of a girl years earlier – a girl who came between Luke and Aaron, who left behind Falk’s name scrawled on a scrap of paper, bringing accusations to his door.
Not only is this a fantastic, page-turning crime thriller, it’s also a great read for anyone who enjoys travel and wants to evoke the spirit of a place on the other side of the world.
Orbiting Jupiter, by Gary D Schmidt
When Jack’s parents decide to foster 13 year-old Joseph, he’s determined to befriend the older boy despite his troubled past in a young offender’s institution and the fact that he has a baby daughter.
But what Jack doesn’t know is just how desperate Joseph is to find the daughter he has never seen and be a part of her life.
I bought this on a random whim because the cover was pretty and sat down to read it before bed one Monday night. An hour later, I’d finished the book and was sobbing my heart out. This is a beautiful, moving story about a family who take in a boy who has had a difficult life and show him kindness and love, never judging him the way that other people do.
Joseph’s determination to find his baby daughter is incredibly powerful. Told from the perspective of 11 year-old Jack, the story is written in a simple way, with a child’s grasp of adult emotions. But that 11 year-old voice reveals things that have a greater impact on the reader; things Jack may not fully understand, but the reader does.
This is a short novel, but it’s one that can’t fail to move you.
Go and read it now if you have a heart.
What have you been reading lately?
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