Whilst on my recent jaunts, I had a lot of time on planes to catch up with some of my recent netgalley acquisitions. The Dry by Jane Harper was one of those.
The Dry is set in a small town in Australia. The Hadler family are dead and it looks like a case of murder/suicide. Aaron Falk returns to his home town after an absence of 20 years in order to attend the funeral of his school friend Luke Hadler. Luke is thought to have killed his family before turning the gun on himself. Aaron is not convinced that the Luke he used to know would have killed his wife and child. Originally intending to just stay for the funeral he soon gets embroiled in the investigation into the deaths. Alongside this, Aaron is also having to deal with the fact that the town still hasn’t forgotten a terrible incident that they believe Aaron and his friend Luke were involved in. It was this incident that meant he had had to flee the town with his Dad 20 years earlier.
This is the debut novel by author Jane Harper, and according to the publisher this is meant to be ‘one of the most anticipated novels of 2017’ I can certainly see why.
The Dry was a novel that draws you in slowly, but soon hooks you in completely. It is not a fast paced novel, but it is incredibly atmospheric. The setting was the part that really made this novel stand out for me. You get the impression of a small town that gives it a really claustrophobic feeling . The slow build up of the story is mirrored by the ongoing threat of drought and fire. As the lack of rain causes tensions in the town to rise, the story builds towards the final reveal.
The characters were interesting, although I was a bit unsure whether I actually liked Aaron or not. Other than what we find out about his childhood there didn’t seem to be a lot to his character although this adds to the small town atmosphere. The story of what happened twenty years before is told in flashback. I felt that these were easy to keep track of even on a kindle when flicking back and forwards isn’t as easy as with a paper version. This was testament to how good the writing in this novel was.
This was a good, if very sad, story that kept me guessing throughout and the final reveal was a bit of a shock. I would recommend The Dry, and it is a story that will stay with you after its over.
(I also got home to realise I already had a hard copy of the novel acquired from the Festival which if I had known would have obviously been a sign of a good read to come!)