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Review: THE DRY, Jane Harper

The Dry, by Jane Harper. Review by Barbara Copperthwaite

‘Transports the reader so that I wasn’t simply reading these things, I was right there’


WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY? I just can't understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn't rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke's death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend's crime.


The huge, relentless sky; the sun beating down; the vast open space; the claustrophobia of a small community that suddenly realizes one of their own has committed the most terrible of murders - The Dry, by Jane Harper, transports the reader so that I wasn’t simply reading these things, I was right there. Even in the cold of the British winter, I could feel the stifling heat of the Australian summer.

I’m late to the party with this book, and deliberately so. I went into it feeling neutral, rather than with high expectations from all the hype, and I’m so glad I did. I loved The Dry from the very beginning. It’s a clever hybrid of detective novel and psychological thriller, and it really worked for me. It wasn’t simply about trying to guess who did what, but also ‘why’ – and anyone who follows my blog or knows my writing knows I’m a big fan of ‘why’.

In addition, each character came across as real and rounded; a totally believable person I could easily come across. That, added to the incredible sense of place created, along with the twisting and turning tale, made The Dry impossible to put down, and I found myself thinking about it when I DID put it down. Highly recommended.

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