Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

Title: The Dry {Aaron Falk #1}

Author: Jane Harper

Published: Macmillan, May 2016

Status: Read March 2019


My Thoughts:

Credited with sparking new interest in Australian rural crime novels, The Dry was published in 2016 to international acclaim, winning multiple awards, with the movie adaptation, to star Eric Bana, currently in production. 

After a twenty year absence, Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown, the small drought stricken community of Kiewarra, to attend the funeral of his childhood best friend, Luke Hadler, accused of slaughtering his wife and daughter, before turning the gun on himself. Falk is now with the Federal Police, investigating financial crime, and at the request of Luke’s parents, who are desperate to find an alternative answer to such a heinous crime, agrees to go over the farm’s business records. While the accounts prove to be fairly straightforward, it is inconsistencies in the details of the crime that bother Falk.

The Dry is an atmospheric novel, evoking the dusty desperation of small farming towns struggling with drought and the myriad of consequences it has both economically and socially. Tempers are short, attitudes are anxious, and secrets fester In the heat.

The mystery at the heart of The Dry is well plotted, and revealed at an even pace. Harper effectively builds and maintains tension, even where the past and present intersect. I admit to being a little piqued by one thread of the story that was resolved but felt unfinished.

Guilt is is a major motivation for Falk’s investigation. His real reluctance to return to Kiewarra stems from the tragic drowning of another childhood friend, in whose death Aaron, and his father, were unfairly implicated. Driven out of town by the victim’s father, a vindictive bully and drunk, the community is no more welcoming on his return. It makes for an interesting character, struggling with both interior and exterior conflicts.

The supporting characters are well drawn, though perhaps not terribly nuanced. It’s actually the absent characters, Luke and Ellie, that are the most dynamic.

An impressive debut, I found The Dry to be an evocative and compelling crime novel. I am looking forward to reading the second book featuring Falk, Force of Nature.


The Dry is available from Macmillan Australia 

or your preferred retailer.

Read an Excerpt

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kate W
    Mar 26, 2019 @ 11:14:28

    I’m not much of a reader of crime but I found this one incredibly gripping and it really had me guessing up until the end. Haven’t read the second one yet but it’s in the queue.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Theresa Smith Writes
    Mar 26, 2019 @ 11:19:29

    I liked the second one a tad more than this one, but both are gripping reads.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Nise' (Under the Boardwalk)
    Mar 26, 2019 @ 11:38:47

    Loved both The Dry and Forces of Nature. Aaron is a great character and I look forward to the next book in the series.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. thebookishlibra
    Mar 26, 2019 @ 13:03:30

    This sounds like such an addictive read. I’ve had it sitting on my Kindle for ages and really just need to make the time to dive in. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Verushka, an editor (@SydneyEditor1)
    Mar 26, 2019 @ 20:24:33

    This book TOTALLY made me a fan of Jane Harper — though I have issues with Force of Nature. Am very curious on your take on it.

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Jan @ Notes from a Readerholic
    Mar 27, 2019 @ 03:35:34

    I really enjoy finding books set somewhere other than the U.S. especially when written by authors who live in or have lived in that country. This sounds very good and I’m glad to put it on my list of books to hopefully get and read!

    Liked by 1 person


  7. Kathryn
    Mar 27, 2019 @ 05:32:44

    I’m not a thriller reader so didn’t take this one up, but I have seen so much good things written about it which is great. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person


  8. Night Owl Book Cafe (@nightowlbcafe)
    Mar 27, 2019 @ 12:23:43

    I want to read this,I’ve heard nothing but good. I love hearing that its atmospheric.

    Liked by 1 person


  9. Mystica
    Mar 27, 2019 @ 16:57:17

    New author for me. I will try to get this one.

    Liked by 1 person


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