The Dry by Jane Harper

fire-danger-ratingAustralia is in the midst of coping with an extremely hot summer, Sydney and Brisbane experiencing the hottest January on record, February looking even hotter with the arrival of a heat wave and increased fire risks in Victoria and New South Wales (where currently 49 fires are burning across the state, 17 of which are not contained and the fire rating is at the level of  “catastrophic”).

A situation that makes the context of Jane Harper’s new novel seem wearily appropriate.

The Dry is Jane Harper’s cracking debut crime fiction novel set in a fictional southeastern Australian town, suffering the effects of the ‘The Big Dry’, a nine-year drought.

Tthe-dryhe story follows Aaron Falk, a police officer from Melbourne, who returns to the town he and father were run out of many years back, for the funeral of his childhood friend Luke. It is clear he wants the visit over and done with as soon as possible and is unwilling to engage with anyone.

However Luke’s father is not happy with the way the police have handled his son’s apparent murder/suicide and asks Falk to stay and look into it.

With several twists, suspects and an intriguing back story of another death of a girl that occurred when the friends were teenagers, it sets a good pace, while exploring the effect of climatic conditions on a small rural community and the circumstances that cause others to seek out smaller towns as an escape.

Jane Harper is at work on her next novel, which also features the protagonist Aaron Falk.

I reviewed The Dry for Bookbrowse, where you can read the full review and a Beyond the Book article on The Big Dry.

Further Reading:

Australia Swelters in Heatwave and argues about Energy Future – The Guardian, Friday 10 Feb, 2017

A Page-Turner of a Mystery Set in a Parched Australia – NY Times review

11 thoughts on “The Dry by Jane Harper

  1. I recall seeing another very positive review of this novel last year, possibly at Kim’s blog. It sounds like a gripping read. I was also reminded of the relatively recent outback noir film, Mystery Road, and its follow-up, Goldstone. Have you seen either of them by any chance?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, this one of Kim’s top reads of 2016, I rarely read crime fiction, but sometimes it’s fun to read ‘off-piste’ and know that a book is going to move along at a reasonable pace and be engaging as this one was. No I’ve not heard of those films, but the premise does sound very similar, we get an interesting mix of films at the cinema here in VO (version original) I usually notice if an Australian film arrives. Did you enjoy them?


  2. The Big Dry.. love the way Australians use words … one of my favourite books is by Australian poet Kate Lewellyn – Burning, a journal of her year living, loving, writing, gardening in the Blue Mountains… have you come across it? I read and re-read it at least once a year !!!!


    • Yes, the way the language evolves and becomes familiar and connected to the landscape, something that can only be appreciated if you arrive or leave.
      Thank you for the mention of Burning, no I’ve not heard of it, I’ll try and find a copy, it sounds like a wonderful read.


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