The Dry by Jane Harper

Gosh its been a while?

Hasn’t it?

Here’s me assuming anyone is reading these, well, never mind.

The Dry, perhaps not the most exciting title you’ve ever come across, and I can assure you not the most exciting book either, but if you like your murder mysteries, I’d definitely give it a go.

Harper weaves together not only the heart wrenching story of Luke Hadler and his family, but also the mysterious death of Ellie Deacon over a decade before hand to craft a novel that leaves the reader suspicious of the narrator and every other character of the novel until the last bitter moments. Using a number of different view points, and an eclectic combination of flashback, diary entries and the present, Harper’s The Dry is atypical for the genre, and yet it works.

Set in rural Australia, The Dry follows FBI Agent Aaron Falk as he returns to his long abandoned home town following the violent murder-suicide of his childhood best friend, Luke . That is, if Luke did in fact commit murder-suicide. Having received a letter from Luke’s father Aaron returns, not the prodigal son, but the prodigal teenage killer. Facing open hostility at every turn, and with Luke’s parents relying on him to prove their son is not a killer (or at least not one without a proper motivation), Aaron must navigate the minefield of small town politics whilst simultaneously attempting to solve one of the most gruesome murders he has ever come across.

Now this novel is by no means the best I have ever read, the writing, whilst engaging, is not fantastic. The storyline is obvious in places and Harper includes drama in needless places in order to disguise the potential resolution to come. Having said that, The Dry is not a bad book, quite the opposite. Engaging is definitely how I’d describe it, so much so that you hardly even notice time passing. The characters and relationships may be obvious and clichĂ© in spots, but that is not synonymous with poorly written. If anything Harper provides an array of relatable characters that remind you just why these tropes have survived so long, and why they are still relied on by so many authors.

If you’re looking for something that’s readable, something that won’t demand your attention or wakefulness, then The Dry is the one for you. If you’re looking for something a bit different, yet still familiar then ditto. And if you’re simply looking for a good book, then look no further. This book won’t blow your socks off, but it won’t bore you to tears either.

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