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The Dry by Jane Harper
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The Dry (2016)

by Jane Harper

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Aaron Falk (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,2531814,707 (3.99)261
"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 261 mentions

English (176)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (181)
Showing 1-5 of 176 (next | show all)
Jane Harper's mysteries set in Australia are fast becoming a favourite series for me. This is her debut novel and it garnered Australian and international awards when it came out in 2017. Even James Lee Burke, IMHO one of the best mystery writers alive, was a fan of it.

Aaron Falk grew up in a small community in northern Victoria state about five hours driving distance from Melbourne. He had two close friends, Luke and Ellie, both of whom lived on land near the Falk's home. As they grew to be teenagers local beauty Gretchen joins the group after being brought in by Luke who is dating her. This leaves Aaron and Ellie together more and Aaron would like to have a romantic relationship with Ellie but Ellie seems troubled. One night Ellie doesn't return home and a few days later her body is found in the river. Suspicion turns to Aaron because his last name was found on a piece of paper in Ellie's room but Luke tells Aaron to say that they were rabbit hunting together instead of the truth which is that neither Aaron or Luke saw each other the day Ellie went missing. Fast forward almost twenty years; Aaron is contacted by Luke's father and told to be at Luke's funeral. Luke, his wife and young son were all killed by a shotgun and it looks like Luke killed his wife and son and then committed suicide. Luke's father wrote a terse note to Aaron saying the he lied and Luke lied and his father wants to know what the truth is about where Luke was when Ellie died. Aaron goes back to Kiewarra planning on only staying for the funeral, spending one night at the local pub and driving back to Melbourne the next day. As Robbie Burns said the best laid plans often gang agley. Aaron, who is an investigator with the Federal Police Force, ends up agreeing to investigate the circumstances of Luke's and his family's deaths. In doing so he uncovers evidence about Ellie's death and everything seems to be intertwined. With the help of local police officer Raco they do get to the bottom of all the mysteries but it is a pretty convoluted road.

I listened to this book which I thought was wonderfully narrated by Stephen Shanahan. I could listen to that accent reading the Melbourne phone book and still be interested. ( )
  gypsysmom | May 26, 2020 |
A small agricultural town in Australia, dying from drought, 3/4 of a family dead of shotgun blasts, and a childhood friend of the dead man returned to the scene after 20 years. What could go wrong. A mostly solid story about the underbelly of small town life and how a few unchecked individuals can poison an entire community. Competent but not special. ( )
  quondame | May 24, 2020 |
“The Dry” seeps into your imagination like a stain. It clings to you like a smell of something foul that you can’t wash out of your hair. It opens with a description of the aftermath of violent death that is steeped in a harsh indifference that sets the tone for the book.

“It wasn’t as though the farm hadn’t seen death before, and the blowflies didn’t discriminate. To them there was little difference between a carcass and a corpse.”

“The Dry” is set in a small, drought-ridden community in south east Australia. The place is so remote that new arrivals are…

“… always taken aback by the crushing vastness of the open land. The space was the thing that hit them first. There was so much of it. There was enough to drown in. To look out and see not another soul between you and the horizon could be a strange and disturbing sight.”

This is an unforgiving place. A place so harsh you have to get along with one another to survive, even when that means turning a blind eye to things that should be confronted and stopped. Like the land it sits on, this community is a dry husk of its former self and needs only a spark to be engulfed in flame.

Aaron Falk grew up there. He left. He’s never been back. He’s built a life for himself in Melbourne, working an Federal Agent investigating fraud. Shortly after seeing on the news that Luke, Aaron’s best friend growing up, has taken a shotgun to his wife, he receives a not from Luke’s father. It says:

“Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral”.

Aaron is not welcomed back to his home town. He is reviled and threatened. He wants to leave but he can’t let himself do that until he has looked into the shootings and their possible links to the death that caused him to leave this community decades earlier.

The plot is this book is both complicated and realistic. It kept me guessing but solving the puzzle was a secondary part of the experience. The main focus was on the Aaron Falk coming to terms with his past and his present by understanding with an adult’s eyes what living in this harsh place did to him and the people he grew up with.

The story is laced with threat and guilt and without becoming too overtly violent. The threat sits on you with the oppressive weight of an over-hot, windless day. It’s always there.

The dialogue is bang on, summoning up a world that is distinctively Australian both in its pace and its content.

Stephen Shanahan narrates the book at slow, deliberate pace that matches the mood perfectly. His performance is first rate.

I was surprised to find that “The Dry” is Jane Harper’s debut novel. Her writing is accomplished. She has created an interesting and original character in Aaron Falk and has given me a taste of rural Australia that felt as real as it was disturbing. ( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
Good, but it sometimes felt too cliched to be believable.

> They put the box of Karen's and Billy's belongings on a spare desk and opened it. The fluorescent lights hummed overhead. At the window, a fly bashed itself repeatedly against the glass. ( )
  breic | May 3, 2020 |
Narrated by Steve Shanahan.
3.5 stars. ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 176 (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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Book description
Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well...

When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds start bleeding into fresh ones. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret... A secret Falk thought long-buried... A secret which Luke's death starts to bring to the surface...
WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well ...

When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds are reopened. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret ... A secret Falk thought long-buried ... A secret which Luke's death starts to bring to the surface ...
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