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The Dry (2016)

by Jane Harper

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Aaron Falk (1)

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2,5622084,192 (3.99)284
"A small town hides big secrets in The Dry. 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."--… (more)
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» See also 284 mentions

English (200)  German (2)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (207)
Showing 1-5 of 200 (next | show all)
Set in Kiewarra, Australia, a farming community not far from Melbourne and in the middle of 2 year drought. Aaron Falk comes to town to attend the funeral of his former best friend who has appeared to kill his wife, son and himself but left his daughter alive. The last time Luke was in town was 20 years ago when he was accused of killing, but not convicted of, killing his almost-girlfriend, Ellie. It soon becomes apparent to Aaron that Luke did not kill his family but was killed himself. Luke hangs around to help solve the mystery.

I loved the prose of this book: almost sparse but descriptive enough that you could feel the heat from the drought and could empathize with the emotions of the characters. Harper followed a logical sequence of events and threw in enough extra tidbits that kept me guessing who did it until nearly the end of the book. The characters and the town dynamics added to the plot. She also resolved the murder from twenty years ago which made for a satisfying ending. Highly recommended. ( )
  DidIReallyReadThat | May 4, 2021 |
I'm breaking my rule: there may be spoilers here, but the review panel would be one large blank if I used spoiler tags, so you've been warned ~ having read my caution now.
Here are a few comments in which I draw a parallel between two novels written by Jane Harper, both books follow what I perceive as a recipe:

I read the The Survivors before The Dry back to back, as it were. I simply didn't feel drawn into the narrative nor feel that there was really any depth and reason to care about the characters.
The books are standalone novels but the storylines are near identical in their plotting and the setting: characters "returning home" under duress and obligation, murders complicated by family dysfunctions, a community with secrets and animosities rooted in the past history of the main character, and a very unsatisfying dénouement: unresolved loose ends. In the story-format sense: the historical pieces in italics, disrupted the story flow and made the pace jerky, especially ruining the suspense that was building.

An additional problem in these novels were the uncontrollable physical elements, The Survivors features the Ocean/Seashore; The Dry has drought and fire. I suppose these devices are inserted to heighten the suspense, but both natural environmental circumstance affected the storyline improbably reliant on stupid, out-of-character behaviour by the main players. Complexities in people's lives was a good theme to explore but I think Harper ran roughshod over setting up these situations. Talk about spoilers, I do have one from The Dry, the concept of one bad-ass-misery-guts family head (Mal) holding the town in thrall was unrealistic in the extreme. ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | Apr 29, 2021 |
Kiewarra, an agrarian community south of Melbourne, has received essentially no rain for the last two years. Tempers are short as farmers helplessly watch their properties poorly weather the oppressive heat. The local citizens blame this climate for the alleged homicide/suicide when Luke Hadler killed his wife and son and then turned the shotgun on himself. When Luke's father asks Aaron Falk, Federal agent from Melbourne and Luke's childhood friend to come to the funeral, he reluctantly agrees having left the town and his memories in his adolescence vowing never to return. Luke's parents entreat him to investigate the crime not believing their son could not commit such an heinous act. Discussions with local law enforcement reveal troubling clues that appear to support the parents' belief. Aaron's reappearance in town is not welcomed by all dredging up memories of his and Luke's involvement with Ellie Deacon, an adolescent who drowned. Several believe that the drowning wasn't accidental but blaming one or both of the adolescent boys of murder.

This mystery/murder is well crafted with a few red herrings to keep the reader guessing. The drought conditions is so well described in this book that one almost feels the heat coming off its pages and myself parched. There is nothing particularly unique about this mystery; it is simply a good read. ( )
  John_Warner | Apr 16, 2021 |
There is little to fault in this riveting tale of two tragedies, set twenty years apart, in a town in the Australian bush a few hours from Melbourne. A reader is always waiting for the author to go wrong in such a complex story with so many characters, but Harper delivers a satisfying ending--or I should say two endings, one for each event. The only jarring element for me are the switches between the past and present, which in some cases leave the reader knowing more than the characters--such as the truth behind the drowning that has haunted the protagonist, Aaron Falk, for the past twenty years. The hatred many of the town's people still have for him so many years later also seems a bit exaggerated. And one could ask why a particular character keeps accusing him of...when he already knows...well, no spoilers from me.

What sets the book apart is the depiction of the town, its setting, and its people. Memorable, complex characters abound--at least complex for a novel that is still basically a mystery, though a very literate, serious one. The interactions between the characters are memorable, and while one is aching to get to the resolution to know what happened, it is also sad to leave so many individual stories behind. One wonders what happens to some of these characters afterwards.

I listened to the audiobook, which is superbly read by Stephen Shanahan. It simply wouldn't work without an Australian narrator, and he is brilliant. I have become accustomed to just how good audiobook narrators can be over the past 3-4 years, but Shanahan is so perfect for this book that he may be the best of them all. ( )
  datrappert | Apr 2, 2021 |
4.5*
Great pacing and plot - there was a good twist I didn't see coming. I didn't always appreciate the flashbacks though - they took me out of the story. I wanted to know what had happened in the past, however following 3 different timelines got to be a little too much at times (at least listening to it via audio book). ( )
  courty4189 | Mar 25, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 200 (next | show all)
Aaron Falk gaat terug naar zijn geboortedorp Kiewarra in Australië voor de begrafenis van zijn vroegere vriend Luke. Bij Luke heeft zich een familiedrama afgespeeld. Falk is niet erg welkom in het stadje. Jaren geleden is hij samen met zijn vader het stadje ontvlucht omdat Falk in verband werd gebracht met de dood van zijn toenmalige vriendin Ellie Deacon. Falk is van plan om na de begrafenis direct weer te vertrekken. De ouders van Luke vragen hem echter om even te blijven en wat onderzoek te doen naar de dood van hun zoon…lees verder >
 
Jane Harper creates an atmosphere of simmering tension right from the off. Her version of High Noon in the Outback flickers between past and present to slowly reveal what actually happened between characters who are far more engaging than the cogs usually found in clockwork thrillers.
She observes all the conventions — the local loudmouth causing trouble, an old flame awakening lust, patchy mobile phone reception, a double-whammy denouement — while producing something fresh.
 
Ms. Harper throws out so many teasing possibilities that it’s hard to believe this is her first novel. And even harder to believe that she learned to write fiction via a literary agency’s online writing course. (She had already been a print journalist for more than a decade.) One trick the course clearly taught her was a basic of the crime genre: Make sure that nothing is what it looks like at first sight. People trying to solve the Hadler murder case — and to deal with many other troubles that erupt in Kiewarra during Falk’s stay — are reliably quick to jump to the wrong conclusions.
added by steevohenderson | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (pay site) (Jan 9, 2017)
 
Solid storytelling that, despite a plethora of flashbacks, never loses momentum, strong characterisation and a sense of place so vivid that you can almost feel the blistering heat add up to a remarkably assured debut.
 

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jane Harperprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hallén, JessicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shanahan, SteveNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To my parents, Mike and Helen, who always read to me.
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It wasn’t as though the farm hadn’t seen death before, and the blowflies didn’t discriminate.
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"A small town hides big secrets in The Dry. 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."--

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