A dark and gritty thriller, The Dry by journalist Jane Harper is an addictive debut and great read for crime fiction fans.
Protagonist and detective Aaron Falk returns to his rural home town following the brutal murder-suicide of his best mate Luke, and Luke’s family. Falk’s return isn’t exactly welcome (it never is, is it?), with the ongoing drought flaring tensions within the farming community, and the new murders calling up questions about a long unsolved case, the drowning of Luke and Aaron’s teenage friend Ella.
A complex cast of characters create a dusty world of intrigue that keeps you genuinely guessing – and second-guessing – who dunnit until the final chapters. The Dry is also a powerful homage to the very real tension and damage that the droughts have caused for Aussie farmers, an urgent and powerful issue that is perhaps too easily brushed aside when not making headlines or affecting the urban populations.
The news that the book has already been optioned by Reese Witherspoon is of no surprise at all, though I hope any cinematic adaptations keep The Dry ground in its Australian roots.