Wednesday, 11 April 2018

The Dry by Jane Harper


BLURB
Australia is in the grip of its worst drought in a century, and it hasn't rained in the small country town of Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered.  Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty. 

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to this hometown for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend's crime.

THOUGHTS
A debut novel that definitely doesn't read as one, with the awards and buzz attached to it being well deserved. 
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The Dry is a mystery, set in Australia, against the backdrop of a farming town in the middle of a drought; this environment makes the story in so many ways. Jane Harper has set the scene well, with the harshness of the drought playing a key part in the story telling. 
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Getting straight to the point, the story opens up with the horrific murders of three of the four Hadler family members being found dead on their property - with a baby, Charlotte, being the only surviving member. For many reasons, it looks like Luke has killed his wife, Karen, and son, Billy, before turning the gun on himself, however Luke's parents aren't willing to believe their son capable of this crime and so an unofficial investigation takes place. Unofficial, because the investigation is being co-led by Aaron Falk, an old family friend from Luke's childhood.
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There is quite a bit of complexity to the story, with doubts and suspicions all over the small town. This is the kind of mystery that leads you down a couple of paths, only to conclude in a way you hadn't seen coming at all - but perfectly so. 
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I read The Dry in less than 48 hours, finding myself gripped and picking it up at every opportunity. Although I found myself rapidly page turning, this isn't a fast paced mystery thriller. The story is told quite slowly in some respects, but you find yourself invested in these people and wanting to know the truth regarding the death of the Hadler family - there is another mystery that is well weaved into the unfolding story also. The second mystery slows down what could be a fast paced story, however it provides a depth to the story allowing you to understand certain aspects more.
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The other mystery that features within The Dry is the death of a young girl many years ago - during the childhood of Luke & Aaron - that really rocked the small community with the affects still being felt many years later. The arrival of Aaron in town, initially for the funeral of Luke and his family, resurfaces many tensions that still hold from Ellie's death.
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I think this novel was a great introduction to the character of Aaron Falk, who we are to see more of from Jane Harper's writings. I haven't read her second novel yet - fully intend to - however I have heard they can read as standalones, but I'd imagine having this backstory from Aaron's youth would heighten the reading experience of future stories with him as protagonist. 
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The characters within The Dry are really well crafted, with even the landscape reading as character at times. Being set in a small town, you get a good sense of a number of residents within the community, although none of them being there to make up numbers - you get to know those who play a prominent role within the story. Each & every character had their own voice.
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If you're looking for a good crime novel to get stuck in to, I'd recommend picking up The Dry.
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10 comments

  1. I've heard so many good things about this one! I don't pick up mysteries all that often, but when I do, this is the kind I would like -- Glad to hear you liked it :)

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    1. I had avoided it for a while, as I tend to with most buzz books as I'm kind of scared to read them (haha!), however this one is well worth a read.

      I think this would make a great summer mystery read, if you were looking to give it a try Christine.

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  2. wow less then 48 hours o.o I love when books grip us like that, wonderful review

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    1. It's one of the best bookish feelings, when a book can hold you like that. Thanks!!

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  3. Oh you've got me really wanting to read this now! I just saw that my library has the audio so I think I'm going to go that route. I can't wait!

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  4. This one is still on my TBR. I really need to read it soon because it sounds fantastic!

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    1. I found it to be a great read... I'd been putting off reading it because of all the buzz, but with the release of her second novel I knew I just had to pick it up.

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  5. I didn't love this one but really liked the character of Aaron Falk so I want to get to the next one. Glad you enjoyed this one!

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    1. Thanks, Grace. I think it was a great introduction to the character of Aaron Falk.

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