There is something utterly satisfying about reading a novel set in a country you've recently been to and thus recognizing many of its cultural and environmental elements reflected in the writing. Although we were never in the outback, or even close to it, we heard plenty about the country's economic difficulties and certainly plenty about the weather and its effects. So, the setting for this mystery was both familiar and utterly foreign at the same time.
Our protagonist has past history in this town - his hometown, in fact - which deepens the plot's main mystery (the death of a family). He's a flawed character - because of his past, a recent failed romance, and a disenchanted view of his current job - and that let's Harper add different layers to the core mystery. We grow to care about him, his country, and the people he thinks highly of. Harper does this all without sacrificing the novel to an overabundance of description or detail, which showcases some true talent.
I hope that her next book - same protagonist, although not the same setting - is as well-developed and intricate as this one. I added it to my library holds when I wasn't even halfway through this one.