Jane Harper’s debut novel, The Dry, is as intense from the opening page to the last word.
Last month I published my first ever book review, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. As fabulous as that book was (I was thoroughly gripped by the ending), I decided to move on from smaller suburban fires to a raging heat in the Australian Bush.
Jane Harper’s debut novel, The Dry, is as intense from the opening page to the last word. A fiery, powerful narrative centres on the Australian town of Kiewarra and the secrets within. A horrific crime has been committed leaving a young family murdered and as far as some community members are concerned, the case is closed. Protagonist Aaron Falk is brooding, burdened with a secret he’s kept faithfully for 20 years, and looking for closure in a community that rejected him.
Except, as with all good thrillers, Harper’s novel is full of unexpected twists. As characters develop, the heat intensifies. The Dry perfectly illustrates the all-encompassing desperation in a town that hasn’t seen rain in over 2 years. Neighbours are turning on each other and a community is cracking along with the baked ground.
The ending is satisfying and yet (surely as with all good books?) I wanted more. As much as this is a thriller focusing on a gruesome murder, Harper touches on other themes; family relationships, poverty stricken communities and the risks you’ll take to protect a secret. Foolish teenage decisions leave a stark mark on the present investigation and as the tension grows, so did my admiration for the character of Falk.
I did have some lingering questions regarding the plot but it’s probably because Harper has captured so well how confusing a web of lies can become. A small community built on the notion of not rocking the boat doesn’t start telling the truth too willingly…
Jane Harper has written another novel following Aaron Falk, Force of Nature, which is now on my list of future reads. If you’re looking for a fantastic thriller to read in this hot summer, I definitely recommend The Dry. It’s enthralling, enticing, and I read it in a day.