The Dry is set in the drought-ridden rural Australian town of Kiewarra, a locale outside of Melbourne. It is the first in a series of Aaron Falk detective novels, and involves Falk returning to his hometown to deal with prejudices from the past, and the murders in the present. Falk has become a federal agent who deals with financial crimes, and so the parents of his now deceased best friend Luke think that he is the best one to root out why Luke might have killed his wife, oldest child, and himself; their family farm was in trouble due to the drought.
If you have been reading my reviews you know that I am very difficult to trick. I don’t read a lot of mystery or thriller novels because my mind often figures out whodunnit early on and then the rest of the book becomes either an exercise in finishing what I start or I get bored and give up.
Jane Harper set up a story where anyone could have done it, and not in the basic “confuse you” kind of way – literally everyone in this terrible little shithole town could be capable of murdering anyone else. Kiewarra feels backwoods and old west and small town insular all wrapped in a nice neat package that is being beaten about by the financial strain brought onto a farming community by a prolonged drought. Most of these people are just terrible, but maybe not by choice but by virtue of their location so you’ll feel a shred of sympathy for some characters too.
I had no idea how this book was going to end. Every time I thought I had it figured out something happened that made me doubt my assumptions. Harper kept my curiosity peaked for 320 pages and I absolutely had to keep reading until I knew who the murderer was because I had to know if I figured it out. The intensity of this book lies in the reader’s need to know. You will find yourself demanding answers alongside Aaron Falk, because this this fucking backwater town isn’t going to stump you or run you out before you get justice.
The sequel to this book is sitting in my office as an ARC and I may just move straight to it because this first one was so good. If you love mystery, if you love a detective novel, if you like a WOAH moment, you should go get this book. It’s intellectually challenging and fun to boot. Go get you some.