Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Dry by Jane Harper

Wow. Just wow. This was a really great read--I zoomed through it in a few days when I realized I had to return it to a friend at our book club tonight. I finished it a mere 30 minutes before we were meeting, and I couldn't wait to talk about it to my friends. Seriously--this was the book I stayed up late to read, woke up early to get more pages in; read during my lunch hour at work. 

A quick plot recap: Aaron Falk, a federal agent in Australia, returns to his hometown of Kiewarra for the funeral of his childhood friend  Luke, his wife Karen, and their little boy Billy. Everyone believes it was a murder-suicide caused by the unrelenting 2 year drought, money problems, and the slow madness of the heat. Why would Luke kill his family so savagely, then turn the gun on himself?  The only survivor: Charlotte, Luke's baby girl. 

Aaron means to leave quickly, since he and his father were run out of town 20 years before after Aaron's friend Ellie was found drowned in a nearby creek, rocks weighing her body down. All eyes turned to Aaron, who was innocent of any wrongdoing, but Ellie's abusive, drunken father made sure someone was to blame. But Luke's father tells Aaron "I know you lied."  Whaaaat???!! Well geez, now Aaron has to stay and figure out just what that means. 

Aaron is joined by local police office Raco in doing some off-duty investigating of the Hadler family's murders, and little by little, they find things that just don't add up. Meanwhile, Aaron's lingering in Kiewarra is stirring up some anger, old feelings, and a lot of trouble. Can he stay long enough to find out what happened to Luke and his family that horrible afternoon?

Well. Jane Harper can write a hell of a story. The dust, grit, heat, parched throats; clothes sticking to skin--she's got that nailed down. It's guaranteed to give you a short fuse just reading about it. The atmosphere of simmering rage in Kiewarra is evident everywhere, and all it takes is one small flame to send it out of control. The repeated small mentions of the fire hazard signs pointing to high danger; the crunch of dirt; the continual desire for a glass of water or a cold beer; it's all part of a background that settles you deep into the story, and makes you feel acutely aware of the edge there is to the cast of characters. I kept thinking, "Tread lightly Aaron!" I felt like he was going to get jumped at any time.  I won't tell you what people do to try to drive him out of town, but geez, these people can really take it up a notch. 

There's so much more to this thriller, but I'm mentally wiped out from the tale. Trust me. Pick it up and read it. I immediately checked out the second in the series, Force of Nature. I need to take a day or two or five to get over The Dry before I start on it. Jane Harper is working on her third novel-yay!

I won't tell you anymore. Discover the brilliance of The Dry for yourself. 

Rating:  6/6 for an excellent thriller that didn't let me down. Such good writing, and a story that pulled me along until I was left reeling at the end. An excellent book club choice, with a reader's guide at the end to help facilitate discussion. Yes, it deserves a solid 6/6!

Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio book. 

1 comment :

  1. You will enjoy Force Of Nature as well. It continues Aaron's story but the setting is almost the complete opposite of The Dry and Harper's descriptive prose again makes you feel as though you are there.