The Dry, Jane Harper

Intriguing mystery set in contemporary rural Australia--Harper doesn't need me to praise her because she's already garnered awards, movie rights, and a sequel, for which I congratulate her. The book is oddly gripping, with a nice, surprise twist, although I personally wanted the mystery to be more complex. Still works.

A great deal of the book is unearthing the events and relationships of the past, told in a series of italicized flashbacks. I prefer to watch characters relieve their past memories in real time as opposed to these self-contained flashbacks, but it works, right up until the end, where the whole thing falls apart: Unable to narrate the last, unsolved murder, Harper resorts to the main character finding a diary and then switches to a third-person omniscient italicized flashback--information, in other words, that neither the writer nor the reader of the diary would have access to. This was a deal-breaker for me. I think as an author you either come up with a different way to convey that, or you scrap the entire strategy of telling the past through flashbacks.