Book Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

Looking for a well written, straightforward mystery novel? The Dry might just fit the bill.

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In The Dry, Federal agent Aaron Falk returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of his boyhood friend, Luke. Luke has apparently perpetrated a murder-suicide, killing his wife and young son before turning the shotgun on himself. It’s not the first first time Aaron and Luke have been involved in a tragedy in this small farming town. Twenty years earlier, their friend, Ellie, drowned under suspicious circumstances. Aaron was briefly implicated but cleared when Luke provided him with an alibi. Despite that, Ellie’s family ran Aaron and his father out of town and some people still doubt his innocence.

Now Aaron’s back and Luke’s distraught parents ask him to look into what happened. Aaron teams up with the new, local police sergeant and together they begin to uncover information that makes them question what really occurred on Luke’s farm. In parallel, we learn what happened to Ellie twenty years earlier through haunting flashbacks.

Aaron’s job is made more difficult by towns people who are still suspicious of him and very on edge due to an extreme drought that is devastating their farms and killing their town. Ms. Harper skillfully creates a hot, dry atmosphere, which is an effective backdrop for the sad events in this novel. In fact, she convinced me that it was hot outside where I live and I was surprised when my husband opened a window and let in a cool breeze. Now that’s some good writing!

I liked The Dry. The author is good at writing dialogue as well as narrative. She created a solid mystery plot without trying to be too clever or gimmicky. And she created an atmosphere that was melancholy at times, but never too maudlin or dark. Overall, it was a satisfying and quickly read mystery.

Have you read The Dry or any other good mysteries recently? Please share your thoughts below.

11 thoughts on “Book Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

  1. Other good mysteries – In a Dark, Dark Wood – great reviews and the movie rights were bought by Reese Witherspoon.
    Also, The Pocket Wife and The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty (It’s unique). I highly recommend all three titles.


  2. I began my reading career when I was introduced to Frank and Joe Hardy. Today, their adventures can still be found in most school libraries and many used bookstores. I have to thank Franklin W Dixon for his telling of the Hardy Boys adventures as I have been a fan of mysteries ever since. It’s very difficult to create a satisfying ending to a mystery. I’m currently reading Allegedly and it has my interest. Not sure how this one is going to turn out. Thank you, Michelle, for the review of The Dry.


  3. So here’s a better recommendation for you: Josh Ritter. He’s a singer/songwriter/ author. Has a way with words! Love his music and I once sat next to him while eating lunch in Lawrence.


  4. I too love a good mystery! I’m looking for one now, and will give this book a try. Thanks for the review! The choice of News of the World for next month is a good one. I read it a couple of months ago and enjoyed it so much I recommended it to my husband. He liked it as much as I did.


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