Sometimes you have the pleasure of reading a book that just absolutely knocks you sideways and I am pleased to reveal that The Dry by Jane Harper is definitely one of those books. We’re all well aware of my preference towards crime fiction so I’m not all that surprised that I loved this one, really. I was a little unsure about the book to begin with: the cover wasn’t one that I found particularly appealing, although it is rather pretty: I just didn’t associate it with being the amazing piece of crime fiction that it actually turned out to be. Just goes to show really: you definitely should NOT judge a book by it’s cover.
The book’s premise is pretty simple. A family is found murdered in their home, the father apparently guilty of killing them and then turning the gun on himself. I say apparently, because as is always the case in crime fiction, there really is more than meets the eye to the tale. We meet Aaron Falk, a federal agent based in Melbourne but native to the small farming town of Kiewarra as he returns for his former best friend’s funeral. The town is all up in arms about the crime, even more so upon his return: he
and his father having been run out of town years previously for their supposed involvement in the death of a young girl (and Aaron’s best friend) Ellie. Tensions are high and then doubled with the risk of drought. He is asked by the Aaron’s parents to have a look into the finances of the family and see if there is anything else that could explain why a happy, family orientated man would suddenly turn and throw all of that away in the blink of an eye. There is significant doubt whether Luke would be capable of doing such a thing and it is up to Falk to ensure that justice is served. Falk is an incredibly interesting and captivating protagonist: I instantly found myself warming to him and egging him on in his search to find the out truth.
I absolutely love guessing my way through crime fiction and coming up with my own theories as to what happened, and how the perpetrator committed and got away with the crime. Try as I might, I just could not have guessed how this one ended. Harper has a fantastic way with words: the book was beautifully written, flittering between scenes from the past and present and incorporated together in a flawless, easy to read manner. Her work is exquisite and reads like an established piece as opposed to the debut that it is. I was absolutely hooked by the narrative and found myself devouring the book over the course of an incredibly short period of time. The ending was tidy and thought-provoking and left you feeling content: although slightly unresolved. I have questions, Harper!!!! I can’t wait to see what Jane brings to the table next, although I have no doubts that it’ll be as fantastic as this contribution.
Thanks to Grace Vincent at Little, Brown for sending me a review copy of the book. It was published on 11th January and you can buy it now in all the usual places. I most definitely recommend that you do: everyone’s talking about it for a reason.