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Dry Season: n/a [Paperback]

Dan Smith
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

18 Feb 2010

On the banks of a sprawling Brazilian river lies São Tiago. A place poised between the old ways and the new, fought over by gangsters and big business. It's a town for people with nowhere else to run; a place where Sam, a former priest, has ended up. He left England to help people, but what he's seen has scarred him, and now he cares about nothing except drinking and fishing on the great river.

But one night changes all that. When a man lies bleeding on a dirt floor, what starts as a fight to save a life becomes a battle with São Tiago's dark heart. Caught between friends and enemies, and entangled in the affections of an ex-prostitute and a predatory landowner's wife, Sam realises that in a place where life is cheap, love can be deadly. As the long dry season stretches out ahead, Sam must face his past if he is to forge the chance of a future and survive in a town without a soul.

Drawing on influences as disparate as HEART OF DARKNESS and the tales of the American West, it's a novel of shocking strength, populated with vivid characters, wild settings and raw emotion. A dark and compelling story, steeped in violence and rich in atmosphere, DRY SEASON is one of the most powerful and memorable debuts of the year.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (18 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409108228
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409108221
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,621,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Growing up, Dan Smith followed his parents across the world to Africa, Asia and South America. Now living in Newcastle with his family, his writing is still inspired by all corners of the globe. His debut novel DRY SEASON won critical acclaim and an array of prize nominations, including a shortlisting for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award. His second novel DARK HORIZONS was followed in 2012 by THE CHILD THIEF. Find out more about Dan at www.dansmithbooks.com

Product Description


"An evocative and powerful thriller that gradually builds to the inevitable violent showdown." (DEADLY PLEASURES)

"DRY SEASON is an impressive debut - an upmarket beach read with a heart of darkness." (THE JOURNAL (Newcastle))

"An atmospheric and intriguing debut... Haunting stuff from a new writer to watch." (MAIL ON SUNDAY)

Book Description

A powerful and moving debut novel of one man's search for redemption deep in the badlands of South America...

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very readable and absorbing 1 Mar 2010
By apsara
An intriguing opening which throws you into Amazonian Brazil.
The story of a priest in the process of trying to anaesthetise himself from his past and find meaning and direction for the future. I liked the relatively understated style of writing which very effectively expressed the rawness of the atmosphere. Some cracking characters with a good story . Exciting,tender,moving and also funny.There are also some shocking bits to it which I thought was brave.
You get the feeling that this was a snapshot of a period of time in the protagonist Sam's life with just snippets of details from his past- I think this emphasised the focus on Sam's current predicament , rather than trying to tell his complete personal story.
The result for me, was to really feel engaged with life on the shores of the Amazon, to be entertained and moved - and to want to know more about Sam- both his past and future.
A great read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Realistic and engaging 22 Feb 2010
By Jamie D
Dry Season is a well crafted novel about an ex-priest trying to come to terms with the brutality of frontier Brazil and his own inner feelings of helplessness in a place where men are killed over card games and land owners retain private militias.

The settings and attention to detail are the novel's strength, and really give the feeling of being in 1980's Brazil.

There's no agenda here either - whether about the burning of the rain forests, the dispossession of the native tribes or the economic imperialism of an American corporation. It would have been easy for the author to use characters as a soap-box, which he rightly avoids. The characters accept them as facts of life, just like the changes of the seasons. The struggles that are played out are personal, and all the more visceral because of it.

So why not five stars? The lead character, Sam, is credible as a man, and as an educated westerner trying to lose himself in a third-world backwater he rings true. But he's not credible as a priest, fallen or otherwise. Even a priest who has lost his faith still thinks in terms of sin and repentance, teleologically and theologically. Sam just thinks pragmatically, and doesn't look for meaning in events, and never questions: why?

That said, there are some good secondary characters, deftly portrayed by their foibles without the need for diversions into their histories. They, like the land itself, are part of the scenery of Sam's here and now.

Highly readable and authentic. I'm looking forward to Dan Smith's next novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first time a book has moved me so much 11 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is not the style of book I would normally read, however someone recommended it and I was open to suggestions at the time.

Initially I felt the book was a little pedestrian, certainly in comparison to my typical read, however I soon realised I was becoming adsorbed in the story, the characters and the surroundings. There was a lot of time given over to describing the scene and setting the atmosphere, which clearly drew me in.

I read the book one Saturday afternoon/evening and towards the end I was moved to the point of tears. A book has never had this impact on me, and I was taken completely off guard. One small sentence during an intense part of the story just caught me. I think the outburst made me realise just how immersed I had become in the characters.

I would hearty recommend the book
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read from start to finish! 5 April 2010
By H.Beach
This book was finished this afternoon, with a smile, a few tears and a very satisfied feeling!
Dry Season is truly one of the best books I have ever read. Who knew a country like Brazil and a priest like Sam could be hiding so many dark secrets! Dry Season captures the imagination- It has everything; engaging and captivating characters, incredible plot and thorough description and throughout leaves you constantly craving more of the story. It is a super debut novel by an author who shows enormous promise. Well done Dan Smith, you have captured my imagination and I shall be avidly awaiting for your future publications.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My first Dan smith novel 20 July 2013
By wooders
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book which, was descriptive to an extent that you could imagine the desolate streets of inner Brazil and the depravity at times. There were some interesting characters, especially Sam, not too sure about the portrayal of the 2 main females in the book, however, all was explained at our book club with a visit from Dan himself. He showed us photos of the area and people which inspired the book and some of the thoughts behind the characters, which was an amazing experience, leaving me wanting to read another of his books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing first book 2 April 2010
'Dry Season' is the best and most beautifully written book that I have read for a very long time. The vivid descriptions and pertinent anecdotes combine to provide totally believable characters and situations, you don't have to follow the links on Dan's website to know this is a wild and lawless part of the world. I'd really like to go fishing and drinking with Sam and his friends. A thriller? Not really - more Hemmingway than Ludlum I would say, but nonetheless very difficult to put down right to the gut wrenching finale. An amazing first book. I want another. Soon.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Smothered by bloated prose 25 Sep 2010
If you've ever read Heart Of Darkness or The Beach then I would give this one a miss, as Dry Season reads very much like an airport lounge version of these works. The novel definitely has its merits and Smith has a few good ideas, but the execution is ultimately disappointing.

The book's greatest strength is the atmosphere its author has created. Smith paints an evocative picture of Sao Tiago and Brazil's seedy 1980's underbelly that's clearly been aided by his time in the country. This is a dark, dangerous place rife with crime, corruption, and decaying morals. I've never visited this part of world (and admittedly know very little of it), but I found Smith's depiction entirely believable. It is because of the strength of the setting that the plot works. The story is nothing groundbreaking and you'll probably have read it's like before, but the setting makes it more engrossing than it should be.

The characterisation is mixed. There are some strong characters in this book, but some of them are paper-thin. Smith particularly seems to struggle with females, as Ana and Catarina Da Silva are both undeveloped and unbelievable. Ana, for instance, is incredibly hard to believe in because everything she does is conveniently perfect (despite her shady backstory). I found it almost impossible to feel empathy for her because she's not multi-faceted. Similarly, Da Silva is too much of a stone-cold caricature to truly fear as an antagonist.

Sam is a curious one. It's not hard to get behind the downtrodden Englishman and appreciate his simple way of living; the problem lies with his supposed former profession. Not once during this novel did I truly believe that this man was once a priest. He treats his former faith with far too much flippancy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Would not recommend
I was disappointed in this book, it could of been a lot better but in the end just seemed pointless and went no where. I give the star for the characters and them alone.
Published 3 months ago by Debbie Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read!
Thoroughly enjoyed this book from Dan Smith. Came across it in a random search and very pleased I did. Read more
Published 5 months ago by DustBowl
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous
Wonderful novel by an amazing author. I don't normally bother writing reviews but this exceptional book deserves all my praise. I've now gone on to read all of Dan Smith's books. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Traveller
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping and well written
Author seemed to know rural Brazil well, initially I thought it had been translated from Portuguese as it describes in graphic detail life in a small very rural backward area. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Redbournite
3.0 out of 5 stars DRY SEASON.
A debut novel from local author Dan Brown, though marketed as a thriller to me Dry Season is much more a story of relationships, of hope and redemption, the characters every bit as... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Tracy Terry
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I really wanted to enjoy this book but unfortunately I didn't. I found it slow and there is to much unnecessary description that is not needed or wanted. Read more
Published on 24 July 2011 by Ms. Nadine L. Doyle
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling
I was surprised by this novel. From the cover notes, I was expecting a dark thriller, but it is so much more than that. Read more
Published on 23 July 2011 by Ian Gaskell
4.0 out of 5 stars Dry Season
A really enjoyable novel. Dan's attention to detail is a joy. He has the ability to draw you into the book to the point where you can almost smell and feel the environment and... Read more
Published on 3 May 2011 by Dangermouse
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Novel
Dry Season is a truly powerful and remarkably assured first novel. Dan Smith has created with immense skill a haunting and profoundly moving story that explores the dark underbelly... Read more
Published on 26 May 2010 by A. Cunningham
3.0 out of 5 stars Great debut novel
For his first effort this is a good book.

The main protagnist is Sam, an Englishman and a priest who has turned his back on his religion and life in general to live in a... Read more
Published on 1 May 2010 by Jonathan Clark
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