I’m really kicking myself that I’ve taken this long to read The Dry by Jane Harper. I’m sharing my thoughts on my blog today.
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.
Jane Harper hooks you straight away, with a disturbing opening chapter, as she describes the haunting opening scene. As I’m typing this, I can still picture the blowflies that appeared so sharply in my mind as I was reading. The Dry quickly swept me into the story, and I became totally immersed in the lives of the characters, living in the small, seemingly forgotten, town of Kiewarra in Australia.
Jane Harper portrays a harsh landscape. Kiewarra is facing its harshest drought in years. As businesses struggle, a grisly discovery is made. A family has been shot dead at their farm, with only one survivor, a baby, who will never be able to say who shot her family. This is where the lead character, Federal Agent, Aaron Falk steps in. He once lived in the town, but has since been ostracised by the locals, following the mysterious death of a young girl, years earlier, who Aaron was linked to. Many of the locals believe he was the person responsible for her death, and they don’t want him hanging around. It isn’t long before he starts to receive threats.
I think The Dry is definitely more of a slow-burner, although I did find Jane’s writing very addictive. I thought this worked really well with the setting, and the writing pulls you in to the sleepy town. It seems, at first, that this is a case of a triple suicide, and that the baby’s father, Luke Hadler, is responsible for his family’s deaths. The reason Aaron has returned, is for their funeral, as he was once best friends with Luke. But he is soon roped into the investigation, in an unofficial capacity. Aaron is determined to get to the bottom of the killings. He soon comes to believe that a third party was involved, but his investigations quickly make him unpopular.
Aaron Falk is a brilliant character. Right from the beginning, I thought there was something mysterious about him. It was the way in which he returned to his former home that made me question what had happened in his past. He doesn’t want to stay long here. As more details are revealed about him, and his friend’s history, I really wanted to find out the truth.
Jane Harper also takes us back in time, as we revisit the time when Aaron once lived in the town. This is where the plot really begins to thicken, as we begin to understand what happened. We can even begin to see why the people of the town suspect Aaron of being a killer. It’s these flashbacks that haunt Aaron, as he tries to reach the truth behind his friend’s death.
My heart was in my mouth as I was reading the final chapters, as the book raced towards a tense finale. Jane Harper has created a really riveting read, and I can’t wait to catch up on her other books.
Publication date: 12th January 2017
Print length: 416 pages
The Dry is available to buy: