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Books and Ideas at Montalto
Set in a rural farming community, Jane Harper’s debut novel, The Dry, is a tightly-spun and suspenseful thriller. It tells the story of a Federal Police investigator who returns to his hometown after two decades of urban exile – tasked with examining the apparent murder-suicide of his childhood friend’s family. As he works his way through the drought-stricken settlement, a horrific truth begins to reveal itself.
The book has met with a sensational response from readers worldwide – as well as the attention of Hollywood, with film rights snapped up by Reese Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard production company. Critics have praised its sustained tension and unsettlingly vivid evocation of the Australian landscape’s most unforgiving traits.
Born in Manchester, Harper has moved back-and-forth between the UK and Australia, working as a journalist before developing her skills in fiction. A short story published in the Big Issue’s 2014 Fiction Edition provided a spark – but it was winning the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript that truly lit the fuse for Harper’s writing career.
Over dinner and drinks at Montalto, Harper speaks with Louise Swinn about the genesis of the novel, her creative path through different kinds of writing, and how she’s dealt with the joy (and pressure) of The Dry’s break-out success.
Books and Ideas at Montalto
Small-town secrets, police politics and catastrophic loss – all loomed large in Chloe Hooper’s groundbreaking 2008 narrative non-fiction book, The Tall Man, about tragedy on Palm Island in Queensland. Her new book treads similar thematic ground – but in the drastically different landscape of Gippsland, Victoria, at the time of the February 2009 Black Saturday fires.
With The Arsonist, Hooper takes readers inside the hunt for the man whose actions caused devastation throughout the Latrobe Valley during the deadliest bushfire disaster in Australia’s history. It’s a gripping and insightful investigation from one of Australia’s brightest talents.
What motivates a person to start a fire? How does fear of bushfire play out in our national psyche? At Montalto, Hooper discusses disaster and deadly mischief with host Elizabeth McCarthy.
Books and Ideas at Montalto series sound design and music: Jon Tjhia.
Due to popular demand, we've added this second session with Lee Child. If you booked tickets for our original session, you've been sent an email with the option of a session change or refund.
It’s said that a Jack Reacher novel is sold somewhere in the world every nine seconds, making the series’ author, Lee Child, a publishing phenomenon.
Invasion of the Pod People: Trace
In 1980, Maria James was found murdered in the back of her Thornbury bookshop. In the years since, her death (and its mysterious circumstances) have haunted her two sons, and dogged Detective Ron Iddles. One of Australia’s most respected homicide detectives, the now-retired Iddles has never really let the unsolved killing go. It was his first case.
The Maria James…
Due to popular demand, we've added a second session – and moved this one forward to begin at 6.15pm. All ticket holders have been contacted by email with the option of a session change or refund. Bookings for the second session are now open.
It’s said that a Jack Reacher novel is sold somewhere in the world every nine seconds…
The Fifth Estate
Media, Police and Crimes Against Women
How is journalism changing when it comes to reporting on crimes against women? Why do some crimes, and some victims, get more press than others? And how does media coverage affect police investigations and the pursuit of justice in specific criminal cases?
For this Fifth Estate discussion, Sally Warhaft will be joined by former Victoria Police chief commissioner Christine Nixon…
Anything and everything in Crime from across our archives.
The Interrobang: A Festival of Questions
Will the world be a safer place when more women occupy positions of power? Rukmini Callimachi and Anne Summers
Explore these other subjects, across our site.