Review ~ THE DRY by Jane Harper
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.
Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.
What a book. I had to sleep on this one. Not like, right on top of it, it was just a little to the left of my pillow, but I needed time to process. It’s not as though this read was so incredibly intoxicating that I couldn’t wrap my head around it—quite the contrary, actually.
The pace is steady and slow, verging on dull at times but never quite crossing that line. The plot itself is packed with twists, but they felt gentle and weren’t especially shocking.
So what did it for me? The atmosphere. The mood this author was able to ignite within me through words alone. The setting. The conditions of the “dry” land and the desperation of a small Australian town facing the disastrous effects of a two-year drought. All of this came alive. Even the school kid’s artwork in this story displays a dire tone…brown grass and dead cows. Talk about getting a message across.
Now pile onto that a young girl’s unresolved death lingering in the stale air; the recent murder of a mother and son; the suicide of a husband, and a town full of suspects.
I’d say the tone is expertly set, and yes, it’s bleak and dreary and despairing and you can feel it. You can see it. You can almost taste it — And that’s how well this author has created this world.
As for the intricacies and puzzles of the plot, I’d say they were decent and held my interest fairly securely throughout. However, nothing *wow’d* me as much as the visuals drawn out and the theme—solid, creative, and original—keeping present until the very end.
Definitely recommend to thriller readers seeking a slower pace, but one that still delivers some substance.