The Dry by Jane Harper
Jane Harper’s The Dry won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2015, and before it was even published, rights were sold to over twenty territories and Reese Witherspoon’s production company is planning to adapt the book into a Hollywood film. That’s a lot of hype for a first novel to live up to – fortunately, Jane Harper writes with the easy confidence of a seasoned pro, and The Dry deserves all of its accolades, and more.
The novel follows Aaron Falk, an agent for the Federal Police, who is drawn from Melbourne back to his rural hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood best friend, Luke, a farmer who has died in a grisly murder/suicide. Aaron hasn’t been back for almost 20 years, and he is far from welcome in his old town, but Luke’s parents beg him to stick around and look more deeply into what really happened to their son and his family.
There are two mysteries to be solved in The Dry, and a cast of characters who might be witnesses, suspects or simply red herrings. The story hits on a lot of familiar beats – the gritty cop with a shadowy past; a small town full of secrets and lies – yet it never feels cliché or trite. The Dry is the kind of thrilling whodunit that could sit in either crime or general fiction, and I would urge those who don’t typically read a lot of crime fiction to pick this one up. (Obviously, if you’re already a crime fiction fan, then it’s not to be missed.) If you’re looking for a gripping page-turner to cosy up with on a cold winter’s night, The Dry is the book for you.
Nina Kenwood is the marketing manager for Readings.