Monday, January 2, 2017
The Dry ~ Jane Harper
Harper, Jane. 2017. The Dry. New York, NY: Flatiron, a division of Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 978-1250105608. $25.99 USD.
I received an ARC from the publisher after seeing the pre-pub buzz about this debut from Australian author Jane Harper. It definitely lived up to the hype! The setting, a small farming town in Australia suffering from drought, was unusual and so well-described that I could feel the heat and see the cracked, dry earth - all of which played an important role in the novel.
Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of a former childhood friend named Luke. By all appearances his friend, a beleaguered farmer, snapped suddenly and killed his wife, his son and himself. Aaron would have skipped going back due to the bad memories of the town, except for a note he received at work: "Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral." Years earlier, Luke had provided an alibi for Aaron in the death of a female friend, and it appears that someone in the town knows that the alibi was not exactly true. Luke gets drawn in to what at first seems to be an open and shut murder/suicide case, and he is further haunted by memories of the past that the people in the town have not forgotten.
The novel moves at an incredible pace, alternating between the present action and scenes from the past. The author does a great job of sustaining the suspense to a surprising and unexpected conclusion. This is an excellent mystery, with well-developed characters, believable dialogue and an unique setting - I had a hard time putting this one down!
Lots of accolades from famous authors, such as David Baldacci, who wrote "One of the most stunning debuts I've ever read. I could feel the searing heat of the Australia setting. Every word is near perfect. The story builds like a wave seeking the purchase of earth before it crashes down and wipes out everything you might have thought about this enthralling tale. Read it!"
Well done, Ms. Harper!