Matt's Reviews > The Dry

The Dry by Jane Harper
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really liked it
bookshelves: audiobook

Succumbing to some of the biblio-peer pressure surrounding Jane Harper's debut novel, I thought I ought to make a little time and see what she had to offer. Australia has been hit with one of its worst droughts ever, turning fertile lands into blobs of brown. In the community of Kiewarra, rain has not fallen in upwards of two years, only adding to tensions. An emergency call is made and authorities arrive at the Hadler farm to find a bloodbath. Luke Hadler appears to have killed his wife and son, before turning the gun on himself. The town chalks this up to extreme duress and a cloud of murder-suicide hangs over the town, which accompanies the scorching sun. When Aaron Falk returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood best friend, townsfolk whisper. Falk is forced to remember what happened two decades before, when a friend, Ellie Deacon, was found dead in the river and a note addressed to him turned up. His alibi is flimsy and turns out to have been concocted with the help of Luke, though they thought the secret would prove impenetrable. While Falk has made a name for himself in the Federal Police, he remains that teenager whose name was bandied around as having been responsible. Falk faces those awkward memories as he tries to better understand what could have pushed Luke to kill his family, with whom he was apparently very proud when last they chatted. Falk works with some of the local authorities to investigate the deaths, turning up small inconsistencies. Could someone have harboured animosity for twenty years and finally sought revenge for Ellie's untimely death? Could Falk be next on the list? Working to uncover what might have happened on the Hadler farm, Falk must clear his friend's name, while standing firm as the past rears its ugly head. A wonderful first novel that allows Harper to show that she is someone to be taken seriously in the genre. Perfect for mystery fans and those looking for a superior story to enthral and entertain.

Harper has made a wonderful first impression on me with this novel, developing a strong police procedural alongside the complexities of small-town Australia. Aaron Falk serves as a wonderful protagonist as he keeps the narrative moving forward with his investigative skills, though the darker past that he has been forced to revisit keeps readers wondering about this man until the final sentence. This hint at a less than pristine Falk allows Harper to introduce a number of other characters whose importance varies, while pushing the narrative forward. Kiewarra proves also to be effective as a setting, as it mixes that proximity to big city life with the quaint farm living that has become destroyed with the current drought. A community that holds grudges while wanting to envelop its citizens away from prying eyes, Harper uses these traits to further enrich her narrative. Harper's use of flashbacks throughout, rather than straight recounting dialogue, gives the reader a great deal of insight and provides a true 'revelation' perspective throughout the story, as if the reader were witnessing some of the events that had been mentioned in passing. The reader learns much from these glimpses into the past and it provides a telling connection to the larger story. Overall, a wonderful piece that should provide momentum for a series, should that be the route Harper wishes to pursue. Curious readers should not take the title to be indicative of the quality or presentation of the novel, but that stocks at booksellers will disappears as swiftly as an Australian brushfire. Get your copy today and you will not be sorry!

Kudos, Madam Harper for such a great start you your published career. I can see that many others have come to like this work and I cannot wait to get my hands on whatever you have coming.

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Reading Progress

January 10, 2017 – Shelved
January 10, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
January 10, 2017 – Shelved as: audiobook
February 21, 2017 – Started Reading
February 21, 2017 –
page 1
0.28% "Will it live up to all the GR hype of this debut author?"
February 21, 2017 –
23.0% "Australia is in the middle of its worst drought. The town of Kiewarra has not seen rain for over two years and the farmers are at the end of their rope. When Luke Hadler seems to have killed his family before turning the gun on himself, the town blames the drought. However, when Hadler's childhood friend, Aaron Falk shows up for the funeral, he begins an unofficial investigation, which opens up new possibilities."
February 22, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-47 of 47 (47 new)

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Kristin (KC) - Traveling Sister Wonderful review, Matt! I'm glad you enjoyed this one. It was definitely an impressive read :)


Matt And the hint at a possible series makes this a wonderful starting point. Thanks for the support!


Norma * Traveling Sister ~ Semi-hiatus for now until I fully get my reading/reviewing hat on! 😂 I’m almost there! 💕 Wonderful review, Matt! I am looking forward to reading this book. I have it on hold....still a few ahead of me! :)


Matt Thanks Norma. It is a wonderful and quick read, full of great Aussie lingo!


Louise Wilson Great review, Matt.


Matt Thanks Louise!


message 7: by Mwanamali (new)

Mwanamali Awesome review.


Mary Matt-great review for a great book!! I loved this one and have recommended it to lots of people.


Kathleen Wonderful review, Matt. I have it on Mount TBR.


message 10: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thank you Mwanamali. I enjoyed it!


message 11: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thank you, Mary. I can see why you would recommend it to many!


message 12: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Kathleen, I thank you. This is well worth a look, when you can!


Natalie Richards Great review Matt, so looking forward to reading this.


message 14: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks Natalie!


message 15: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike Excellent review, Matt. Glad to see you enjoyed this one. Liked your point about the use of flashbacks creating a revelation perspective. Very eager to acquire this one myself.


LadyJBookishNook Great review Matt!! This one is on my shelf to read.


message 17: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks Mike. It was a refreshing read!


message 18: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt I thank you, LadyJ71! You won't regret pulling it off the shelf.


Lawrence Good review Matt....It's on my to-read list and I hope to read it in 2017.


message 20: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Tomasso Wonderful review Matt. You've formalised my vague interest into a definitely want to read.


message 21: by Frances (new) - added it

Frances Good review Matt; glad it's on my list.


message 22: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Lawrence, I hope you and your sister like it. Thanks!


message 23: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks Elaine. Glad to harvest some interest there (pardon the pun).


message 24: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt I am glad too, Frances. Thanks for your support!


message 25: by Deanna (new)

Deanna I'm hoping to read this soon! Great review!!


message 26: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks Deanna. You will not be disappointed!


message 27: by Sam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sam Glad this lived up to the hype for you, Matt!


message 28: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks Sam


message 29: by Jocelin (new)

Jocelin Good review Matt. I read in Entertainment Weekly that Reese Witherspoon bought the movie rights for this book.


message 30: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks Jocelin. Oh really? This could make for an interesting cinematic presentation, should it come to fruition.


message 31: by Pat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pat Wonderful review Matt, I'm really glad you enjoyed the book. I thought it really brought the town and the people alive for the reader.


message 32: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks Pat. I feel the same, and do wish I could make my way to that part of the world someday soon!


Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters Great review....just finished it too and loved it!!!


message 34: by Matt (last edited Apr 04, 2017 04:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks Elyse. February cannot come soon enough for Book 2


Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters Is that when it is, Matt? --ok --sign me up too!! :)


Cheri Wonderful review, Matt!


message 37: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thank you Cheri!


message 38: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary Great review!! Loved this book and have recommended it many times.


message 39: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks Mary!


PattyMacDotComma Great review of one of my absolute favourites, Matt!


message 41: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks Patty!!


Kathleen Lovely review of this excellent crime mystery.


message 43: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thank you kindly, Kathleen!


message 44: by Beth (new) - rated it 4 stars

Beth I really liked this one! Great review!


message 45: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks, Beth!


message 46: by marilyn (new) - added it

marilyn Nice review! The Lost Man made such a good impression on my that I'll be going back to read the two Falk books.


message 47: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks, Marilyn!


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