The Dry begins with the death of three members of the same family. Luke Hadler is believed to have killed his wife, Karen, their five-year-old son, Billy and then himself in an apparent murder-suicide in the rural town of Kiewarra. Most folk think Luke did what they all probably wanted to do to their families due to the drought. Others wonder if it was the consequence of family violence, something not spoken about in these areas. But Luke’s one-year-old daughter Charlotte, is the sole survivor. If he wanted to rid his family of the misery, why not kill her too?
Aaron Falk, Luke’s childhood friend and now a federal officer in Melbourne, returns to Kiewarra after almost two decades for the funeral. An unwilling guest, he is here on the request of Gerry Hadler, Luke’s father who informs him ‘Luke lied. You lied‘. Falk’s past demons come back to haunt him in Kiewarra as he tries to figure out with the local cop Raco, what actually happened to the Hadler family.
The Dry is Jane Harper’s first novel and from the very first chapter, she manages to hook you in. She manages to intersperse the past with the present seamlessly. Most chapters end with you wanting to know more which is what a good crime novel should do. The people of Kiewarra are similar, yet distinct and colourful. The town itself is a character in the story. I suspected the killer but not the motive which in the end, I thought was cleverly done. It’s very Australian in its backdrop but more so, in the stuff we don’t talk about and like to put away. There are subtle social messages within the novel including issues such as family violence that are rarely ever spoken about even when people suspect it.
If you like crime fiction and Australian fiction, you need to read this book!
Until next time,