The Dry by Jane Harper
Published by Macmillan Audio on January 10, 2017
Series: Aaron Falk, #1
Genre(s): fiction, crime, mystery, suspense
Format & Pages: audiobook
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WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?
It hasn’t rained in Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the farming community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are discovered shot to death on their property. Everyone assumes Luke Hadler committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for the funerals and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and his childhood friend Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth …
I had heard a lot of really great things about The Dry pretty much since its release, so when the audiobook came available from my library just when my ears were twitching for one, I figured it was a sign this was the right time.
It’s entirely possible this was a case where all the hype built this into epic proportions in my mind before even beginning, which is never a good start. That’s not to say this wasn’t a really good, really well done book. It was. And I still really liked it. It was just missing some je ne sais quoi that would have taken it to WOW for me.
“When you’ve been lying about something for so long, it becomes second nature.”
I personally wouldn’t classify The Dry as a thriller. Harper sets a suspenseful scene in a bleak setting and slowly but surely unfolds clues and information until you ultimately discover the answer to the mystery. It kept me guessing right up until the end. I had my money on a particular character nearly from the start and while part of what I guessed wound up being right, the rest was completely off base.
Possibly my favorite part of this book was the atmosphere created. I felt like I was standing next to the characters, experiencing the hot barrenness right along with them. The narration by Steve Shanahan was spot on, with an Australian accent that was easy to understand and helped to immerse me in the story. One drawback to listening to the audiobook was the sheer number of flashbacks. The point of view switches between present day as Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for his friend and his family’s funeral and is drawn into the investigation of their deaths, and the past as secrets are revealed about a death that had happened in the community some twenty years earlier. This might work fine as you’re reading it on the page, but when listening to the audio there is no cue for these switches and it took some time to get used to.
“You’re staring so hard at the past that it’s blinding you.”
Aaron Falk was an intriguing character. A bit of a loner, intelligent, and a generally good guy with a complicated past, we begin to see the bigger picture of who he is in this story. Harper did hold back somewhat though, and I am hoping this is because we’ll continue to learn about him through the course of the series. Many of the other characters were interesting as well; they were complex individuals and everyone had their own secrets and motives, making for relationships and interactions that felt quite realistic.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Dry and look forward to spending more time with Aaron Falk in the next installment, Force of Nature, expected out in February 2018. But I’ll be looking for this one in print version.