The Dry, by Jane Harper, takes place in a small town in Australia, the kind of small town where everybody knows everyone else’s family and has their nose into who’s doing what. It’s from that small town that Australian Federal Agent Aaron Falk escapes after one of his friends is found dead decades before, and he was a suspect in her murder. Now, his childhood BFF Luke – who provided Aaron’s with an alibi that kept him from being arrested – has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, after killing his wife and his young son.
So, after all this time, Falk returns home for the funeral, and to try and come to grips with how this friend could have possibly done something so uncharacteristic, so against his nature. Well, it turns out that Luke’s parents also don’t believe it, and they convince Falk – who isn’t a homicide investigator, but instead conducts financial investigations – to, well, investigate.
But here’s the thing: Falk knows that the alibi that Luke provided years ago was a lie; however, he also knows that he was innocent of the crime. Could the two murders be connected in some way? He reluctantly agrees to spend a few days looking into the deaths.
The author doles out the secrets of both crimes little by little, leaving the reader to suspect different people throughout the book. The plot is set against the worst drought in a century. The writing is so good that you can practically fill the heat and hear the crunch of the grass as the characters walk through the plot.
I found the solution unpredictable almost to the end of the book, though I will admit to figuring it out just a bit before the detective.
The Dry is the first in a series, and her second book – Force of Nature — was released this past February. I’m eager to see if it’s as good as The Dry.