Title: The Dry
Author: Jane Harper
Publisher: Little Brown UK
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.
Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.
FINALLY I got around to reading this much-loved book, and wow – I was not disappointed!
The Dry is a force to be reckoned with because it ticks so many boxes for me – brilliant, three-dimensional characters that I want to read more about (lucky we’ll see more books with Aaron Falk in, then!) mixed with a gripping storyline full of mystery and surprises AND the truly atmospheric setting, where each page made me feel more and more like I was actually there, dealing with the heat from not just the sky but the heightened tension.
The writing is excellent, bringing every conversation and every dark look alive for the reader so effortlessly right from the off. We see some of the present day narrative and some of what happened ‘back then’, in fragmented pieces which the reader can slowly start to put together.
The storyline also combined various ‘mysteries’ without following a traditional crime/thriller ‘police procedural’ setting; it’s more about the investigation from Aaron without all the red tape and procedures of the police investigation which was refreshing to read. Plus we never quite know how trustworthy Aaron himself is, despite the fact that I hugely like him as character – some of the story he recalls has that element of doubt around it, and that only added to the intrigue for me!
The ending was also just perfect for me; not too ‘tied up neatly with a box’ but with enough conclusion to satisfy. I started to suspect who it might be towards the end but I could never have guessed why, and I loved that there were essentially two ‘mysteries’ to unearth- one long in the past, and one only a few months ago.
Anyway, so as not to give anything away I’ll just finish by saying I HUGELY recommend this stunning debut, so if, like me, you’ve somehow not read it yet, go and buy it NOW! I now can’t wait to read the second book by Jane Harper, Force of Nature!