Recently I’ve been in a funk… I wasn’t reading bad books necessarily, but nothing was grabbing my attention and making me want to drop everything and read. Let’s just say….I read this in less than 30 hours, start to finish (which includes an 8 hour work day and having to sleep at some point). I was hooked. To be honest, I’m still kind of reeling from this one (and kind of wish I had on my heart rate monitor because I’m certain that reading this was the equivalent of an hour on the treadmill for cardio). Horizontal running, anyone?
The Dry takes place in Kiewarra, a small farming community in Australia that’s in the middle of a two-year drought (hence “The Dry”). People are worrying about losing their crops/animals, losing their land or business, and even not having enough to eat or drink for the day–everyone is on edge. So when local farmer Luke allegedly kills his wife and son in a murder-suicide (but leaving their infant daughter unharmed), people are quick to believe the worst of him, that he couldn’t handle the pressure and snapped.
Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral.
Before he was a federal agent, Aaron Falk lived in Kiewarra and was actually best friends with Luke. However, he left amidst scandal: his good friend Ellie Deacon drowned and rumor has it that it was Falk’s doing. The only thing that kept him free was Luke’s steadfast claim that they were together at the time of her death. The problem is, that was a lie, and they’re not the only ones that know it. Now, he’s back for the funeral and (at the insistence of Luke’s parents) looking into the circumstances surrounding the deaths. As he digs deeper, he begins to question everything, specifically why Luke lied about where he was the day Ellie was killed and who else knew that they were lying. Does Luke’s death have anything to do with Ellie’s? If so, what does this mean for Falk?
This book is actually Jane Harper‘s debut novel, and honestly I can’t believe it. There are many seasoned veterans than are significantly less eloquent than she is. Her descriptions are so vivid, you can feel the tension of the town radiating off the page. The whole town seemed to come to life. Even though I tore through this one, I spent my non-reading time still thinking about these characters and their stories. I had a love/hate relationship with Luke, needed justice for Ellie, and wanted to become best friends with girl boss Gretchen. Plus, I wanted to give Falk a big hug… I grew up in a small town where gossip is king, and know how often people are guilty until proven innocent.
It wasn’t as though the farm hadn’t seen death before, and the blowflies didn’t discriminate. To them there was little difference between a carcass and a corpse.
Another thing that made this book truly exceptional was Harper’s ability to be creepy without being over-the-top gory or having an excessive number of plot twists. Just like a drought doesn’t occur overnight, the story was over 20 years in the making, beginning with the reemergence of teenage Ellie into Luke and Falk’s life and reaching a head at the grand reveal. The tension steadily builds, making every event seem as though it will be the one to send everything up in flames, burning the town to the ground along with all its secrets.
Fortunately for fans of Falk’s, our favorite federal agent will be back in February with a new mystery in a new setting. So. EXCITED!
Ramsey is giving this one 2 paws up… and not just because he’s getting a belly scratch from Dad.