2 Great New Winter Novels

'The Dry' by Jane Harper and 'All Our Wrong Todays' by Elan Mastai

Two books published early this year are the perfect antidote for the snow.

You’ll be glad it’s on the cool side when you read The Dry by Jane Harper. Set during a summer drought in a small Australian farming town, this literary mystery will have you hanging on every word.

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Aaron Falk has returned to town after 20 years to attend the funeral of his former best friend Luke Hadler, who to all appearances shot himself, his wife, and one of his two children. When Aaron was 16, he and his father had left town under a haze of suspicion after Aaron and Luke’s friend Ellie was found drowned in the river; she had left a note with “Falk” and the date of her death on it. Aaron’s homecoming is not welcomed by many, and he can’t wait to get back to Melbourne until Luke’s mother, who had been like a mother to him as well, asks him to look into Luke’s death. Small town meanness and other human vices are on full display as Aaron doggedly pursues the truth with the help of the town’s police chief. Debut novelit Harper does a fine job of keeping the suspense up in crisp prose. I’m still thinking about the ending...a good choice for a book group read.

All Our Wrong Todays is another first novel, but this time by a veteran screen writer. This time travel story starts out simple enough but grows in complexity and is another one that had me thinking about it after I had finished.

Tom Barren lives in a 2016 that has realized all the dreams of the 1950s - jet packs, flying cars, and all the rest, thanks to an invention that harnesses the energy of the earth’s rotation to provide unlimited clean energy. Tom is an unhappy loser, however, the less-than-stellar offspring of a brilliant scientist father and a passive mother. When Tom ends up on the team of his father’s greatest accomplishment, time travel, he manages to make of mess of it. He must figure out how to get back to his time and set the timeline to rights, which is complicated by the interference of other versions of himself from other timelines.

Wow. I started out not fond of the protagonist, took a little while to get into it, but it just got better and better. I can't speak to the intricacies of time travel; the construction of this story worked for me. It got really suspenseful there near the end, and I couldn't put it down by that point. Kinda meta and really quite fun.

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