Book review: The Dry by Jane Harper

Monday, May 30, 2016 Permalink

The Dry by Jane Harper was reportedly the subject of a bidding war when the manuscript went to auction. On top of that Reese Witherspoon has apparently secured the film rights and she’s got a pretty good record of spotting a popular book-to-screen option.

Book review: The Dry by Jane HarperThe Dry
by Jane Harper
Published by Macmillan Australia
on May 31st 2016
Genres: Literary Fiction, Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1743548052, 9781743548059
Pages: 352

Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well...

When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds start bleeding into fresh ones. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret... A secret Falk thought long-buried... A secret which Luke's death starts to bring to the surface...

The Dry does not disappoint. Its prologue is amazing. Poignant and sad. Kinda shocking. Stark. It sets the scene for what’s to come – which reflects the harsh dichotomy of life in rural Australia. The flooding rain or dry heat of the drought. The close camaraderie and mateship between neighbours and townsfolk or the alienation and not-so-subtle whispers.

Aaron Falk and his father left town under dubious circumstances two decades earlier so he’s not back willingly. He probably would have missed his former best mate’s funeral, except Luke’s father lured him there with a secret from their past Aaron thought was long buried.

But once home he finds himself unable to say no to the grieving parents of his childhood best friend. Aaron doesn’t hold much stock in Luke’s mother’s belief that her son could not take the lives of his family. She was his mother after all. Aaron knew another side of Luke. He once knew Luke’s secrets. Just as Luke once knew his.

I was pleased Harper avoided the cliche of the unwelcoming local cop with a chip on his shoulder and Aaron soon finds himself privy to Sergeant Greg Raco’s suspicions. The pair work side by side, in an attempt to pick apart the Hadler family’s final days and hours, looking for any sign that this wasn’t just a tragedy brought about by stress, anger and / or despondency.

Although Aaron’s role with the Federal Police focuses on financial crimes he’s a seasoned investigator with a calm – almost stolid demeanour. (The former #bushie in him perhaps!)

Of course every town has its secrets and Aaron can’t help but wonder if the events on the Hadler farm are linked to those which drove him and his father away two decades earlier.

Harper does a good job with her characters. Aaron and Raco are both well developed and neither dissolve into the stereotypical cliches which often befall the ‘local cop’ and ‘former rebel returns home’ characters.

I guessed whodunnit part-way through the novel but was interested in how it played out. I was also intrigued by the secrets from Aaron’s youth and (ultimately) saddened by their indelible repercussions.

I’d actually enjoy meeting Aaron again and wondering if this might possibly become a series.

The Dry by Jane Harper will be published in Australia by Pan Macmillan on 31 May 2016.

I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

  • Sarah @sarahdipity
    May 30, 2016

    Sounds like a great read!

    • Debbish
      May 30, 2016

      Definitely is and it’s been getting a lot of press here in Australia already – though only out tomorrow!

  • Stormi D Johnson
    May 30, 2016

    Oh this really does sound good, now for the long wait till it comes out in the US next year….lol. 🙂

    • Debbish
      May 31, 2016

      I know – not sure why it’s so long Stormi – maybe to coincide with the movie if one’s on the agenda! Or you need to visit Australia and buy a copy!

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