I had a slight change of plan with my “Foreign” read for March Mystery Madness. I had just decided to give up on one piece of translated fiction when my request for “The Dry” by Jane Harper came in at the library. Knowing it had a large waitlist, and being set in Australia, I started on it immediately.
About the book:
A small town hides big secrets in this atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by an award-winning new author.
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.
Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.
Aaron Faulk, a Federal Agent, is requested at the funeral of his childhood friend, Luke Hadler. Luke appears to have committed murder/suicide with his wife and young son, but not his baby daughter. Luke’s parents are not convinced, and Aaron Faulk is persuaded to remain to unofficially look into the deaths. His help is welcomed by local Sergeant Greg Raco, who also isn’t convinced it was murder/suicide.
Unfortunately most of the townsfolk aren’t happy at Faulk’s return. He left under suspicion of murdering another childhood friend, although that was ruled suicide. As the story goes along, he investigates what really happened to Luke, but also rakes up the past.
This is a very good story. You are grabbed from the first pages immediately, but it slows down after the initial opening. At over 400 pages I found it quite a long and difficult read.
I really liked the character of Aaron Faulk. I found him a sympathetic and likeable character. Many of the other characters were deliberately unlikeable.
The dry heat from the town also provides an excellent backdrop and is almost a character in itself.
Do I think it’s worth the hype that surrounds it? Taking everything into consideration, I personally don’t. This was a library copy. Whilst I’ll not be dashing out to get book 2 (which, ironically, initially intrigued me far more than this), I will probably borrow it when the hype for it dies down.