The Dry

The Dry - Jane Harper Federal Agent Aaron Falk is dragged back to the small Australian town from which he was exiled twenty years ago by the funeral of his childhood friend. It turns out that his friend has been accused of committing a horrible crime, and everyone in town believes that his death was just a simple case of domestic homicide followed by suicide from the resulting guilt. Jane Harper’s title for her first novel, The Dry, alludes to the ravaging and unrelenting drought Falk’s town has endured for years. Agent Falk is unsure what to believe about Luke, his friend who he has barely connected with over the past two decades. Luke’s parents convince Aaron to stay for awhile to investigate some possible alternative explanation, or at least a motive. Aaron reluctantly agrees to help the local PD, even though he specializes in financial crimes, and is not exactly given a warm welcome by the town’s inhabitants. As he seeks to discover the series of events that led to Luke’s death, Aaron’s own secrets and tragic details of a long-ago crime become apparent. Harper unwraps the two mysteries amidst the backdrop of a town filled with simmering heat and anger. This novel manages to be both surprising and logical, with some good twists and red herrings to keep the reader guessing. The Dry is excellent for a first effort, and Agent Aaron Falk is a likeable character who will make a welcome return in the sequel, Force of Nature, just recently released by Flatiron Books.