The Dry by Jane Harper

I went into this book with scepticism, thinking it’d be too dry (see what I did there) and even a bit boring. It is a book club novel, so I really didn’t choose it. But let me tell you, Jane Harper blew me away! So much so, I went and got the sequel to this.

When Aaron Falk returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood friend, Luke, he plans to make a retreat back to his life as a federal agent, as quickly as possible. But Luke’s grieving parents ask for his help looking into Luke’s financial affairs in hope that he can find answers as to why he’d go and kill his wife and his son, then turning the gun on himself.

Soon after, Aaron is partnered with a local investigator in a search for clues that could shed light on the events leading up to the murders and Luke’s suicide. In the process, the two uncover shocking evidence that will change everything they thought they knew.

From the description of the harsh landscape:

“It was terrifying. It was a flash of hell. The land was drier now than it had been then. This would be no slow burn.”

To the harsh realities of coping with death:

“No-one tells you this is how it’s going to be, do they? Oh yes, they’re all so sorry for your loss, all so keen to pop round and get the gossip when it happens, but no-one mentions having to go through your dead son’s drawers and return their library books, do they? No-one tells you how to cope with that.”

Harper’s dazzling and gripping writing left me wanting to keep reading till the very end to find out what really happened to Luke and his family. Even her decision to slowly unravel certain details of the mystery, which sometimes made me question who really did murder the family was what made this a truly great “whodunnit” novel.

If there was one aspect that brought my review down it would be the graphic details of how Luke’s little boy was murdered. I only write this because it took me by surprise and I had a hard time reading it, so it is a forewarning to anyone interested in reading this.

Harper does an excellent job in brining the local town, Kiwarra, alive, and the desperate character that live there. It is a dark and intense community where people hold on to grudges and never forget the past. The drought scares the people and as the heat rises, so does the speculations and anger towards other character’s pasts.

This is a fantastically well written story with a fascinating narrative. The character development is brilliantly done. The tension and suspense kept me enraptured. Stay tuned for Jane Harper’s sequel review, Force of Nature.


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