Review: The Dry by Jane Harper (Aaron Falk #1)

DryA small town hides big secrets in this atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by award-winning author Jane Harper.

In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier.
But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke’s death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds bleed into new ones.

Review

The Dry by Jane Harper is quite an atmospheric, enthralling read. The story is set in Kiewerra during a very dry season and I could feel the heat all the way from here. I don’t know whether it’s because of the recent drought season in my country but the weather conditions  stood out for me. I could imagine the harsh sun, dry fields, water problem, heat and the flies.  On top of the harsh weather, there is a triple homicide or a double homicide and suicide depending on who you asked.

Kiewerra is yet another small town that I would never want to visit. Despite the heat, the residents of the town make it an even more undesirable place. These people can hold grudges and have embraced mob psychology. One person hates you, the whole town gets poisoned. They take pettiness to a whole new level and of course, the idea of mind your own business is as scarce as the rain in Kiewerra.

I enjoyed the murder mystery and the unpredictability of the case. This is one case where I thought I had the right suspect but they were cleared and I dropped them and then just as I had found new suspects, it turned out my earlier hunch was spot on. I love how the author managed to make me doubt myself like that. At some point, I really thought I had finally made the right connection and almost executed a fictional citizen’s arrest but I was wrong. I can’t explain just how many times I changed my mind on the unsub’s identity.

In the end, I enjoyed this book with its dual story-line and characters (not the nasty ones). I love how the author brought the setting and its residents alive.  I can’t wait to reconnect with Aaron Falk in his next case. Recommended.