Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Fiction Review: The Dry

I've been listening to rave reviews from readers all over the world ever since Australian author Jane Harper published her debut novel, The Dry, in 2018. My husband and I finally had a chance to read it, and we both enjoyed this taut thriller with a distinct sense of place.

As the novel opens, Federal Agent Aaron Falk is filing into the church of his youth, after a 20 year absence, to attend the funeral of his childhood best friend, Luke. The news, as gruesome and sensational as it was, had reached Aaron even in Melbourne: supposedly Luke had shot his wife and son before killing himself. Though Aaron is not in town in a professional capacity, Luke's parents pull him aside after the service and ask him to look into the case. They say there is no way that Luke would have done this and that he was having financial problems that could have perhaps provided some sort of motive for someone else to do it. Reluctantly, Aaron agrees to stay for a few days; his specialty is forensic accounting, so maybe he can at least let Luke's parents' know what the numbers tell him. Sergeant Greg Raco, the newest member of the small local police force, is outmanned for something this big and welcomes Aaron's help, but he and Luke's parents are among the few in town who are happy to see him. Aaron left as a teenager with his father, after some sort of tragic event that left a good friend of his dead. In fact, Aaron didn't just come to the funeral only out of a sense of loyalty but because he'd received an anonymous note saying, "Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral." As Aaron works to help Raco solve the recent case, shadows from his past (and some very unfriendly people) keep popping up and getting in the way. What happened twenty years ago? And is it connected in some way to what happened last week on Luke's farm?

This is one of those super twisty mysteries where you keep thinking you have it figured out and you know who the bad guy(s) are, but ... you don't! The setting in a small Australian farming community during a severe drought is a huge part of the story. With the financial pressures of failing farms and the general sense of tension brought by the never-ending dry spell, there are plenty of potential suspects who could have been pushed to the edge of madness. My husband and I both enjoyed the fast-paced and complex story with two intertwining, mysterious deaths set twenty years apart. We were both riveted by the sharp writing and unique plot that make this thriller a compelling read. Now, we are both eager to read Jane Harper's next novel, Force of Nature, which I just bought for my husband's birthday!

326 pages, Flatiron Books

Macmillan Audio

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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here and/or download it from Audible.


You can purchase The Dry from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:

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  1. I agree this is a great read, I hope you enjoy Force of Nature too

  2. I need to read this one. I read another one of hers that I liked, but didn't love, however, this one gets rave reviews.

    1. We both liked it - looking forward to reading more!

  3. Great to hear that both you & your husband enjoyed this one - I hope you have the same experience with Force of Nature.

    Jane Harper has fast become an auto read author for me.

    1. Can't wait! Glad you enjoy them, too!