The Dry by Jane Harper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Twenty years ago, Aaron Falk and his father left town after a girl was found dead and Aaron was a suspect. Now, Aaron returns to his old home for his best friend's funeral, an apparent murder-suicide. When the deceased's parents ask him to look into it, Aaron opens a lot of old wounds...
This is one of those hyped books I ignored until I was able to pick it up on the cheap. In this case, I should have believed the hype.
The Dry takes place in an Australian town during a never-ending drought. Aaron, now an accounts investigator, returns home to find some things never change. Did his best friend really murder his family and then himself? Did he murder Aaron's would-be girlfriend decades before? The two mysteries curl around one another like a couple amorous pythons.
The setting, a small isolated town where everyone is balls deep in everyone else's business, is one of the things that sets this apart from a lot of other thrillers. It's hard to investigate a crime when everyone already thinks they know who the murderer is.
The supporting cast also did a lot for me. Raco, the small town cop, proved to have a lot more depth than I thought, as did Gretchen. Old man Deacon and his nephew were total douche canoes but you could see where they were coming from, even if they weren't in the least bit sympathetic.
Aaron chewing on the two cases at once, delving into his own past as he tried to discover the truth behind Luke's murder, was like putting together two puzzles at the same time.
All that being said, I probably would have given it a 4 until the "Oh Fuck" moment when the killer was revealed. I've read hundreds of thrillers and detective novels and I consider myself a pretty good armchair sleuth. The killer was revealed and I felt like Jane Harper lured me onto a stage to give me some kind of award and then depantsed me in front of hundreds of people. That's how hoodwinked I felt at that very moment.
The Dry is a fantastic debut novel from an author I can't wait to read more from. Five out of five stars.
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