The small town of Kiewarra is rocked when Luke Hadler and his family (a wife and child) are found dead; an apparent murder-suicide. Federal Police investigator, Aaron Falk, returns home for the funeral; a childhood friend of Luke, Falk returns home and soon is wrapped up in the investigation, doubting the claims against his friend. As he delves deeper into the inquiry, wounds of his past begin to haunt him. Luke and Aaron had a secret. A secret that was supposed to be buried. A secret that Luke’s death is sending to the surface.
The Dry, the debut mystery by Jane Harper, had me hooked from the initial pages. Filled with red herrings, a stellar plot, and provocative characters, there wasn’t much that this novel left me needing.
The novel opens with the grisly murders of the Hadler family. All signs point to Luke, the patriarch. Enter Aaron Falk, a man born and raised in Kiewarra, forced out of the town as a teenager after a scandal. He has returned to pay his respects at the family funeral. He and Luke had been childhood friends. Desperate for answers, and to clear their son’s name, Luke’s parents make a plea for Aaron to stay and investigate. As Aaron investigates, he begins to untangle a scenario that mixes past demons with present problems, leading him on a hunt for answers.
The novel is narrated solely through Aaron. I found him to be an extremely likable character. Harper also introduces a narration into the past; we are able to see the story develop in the present day as well as in the past bringing two mysteries colliding into one. I loved this narrative style. I didn’t find it overly distracting, but I did find myself wanting to know more!
The plot was meticulously weaved and multi-layered. Sins of the past, economic strife, and the collapse of a family unit; there were no stones that The Dry left unturned. There were so many moving pieces and yet I didn’t any of them to be distracting or overwhelming. Harper does a brilliant job at blending all of them together to create a well-oiled story. I also found this one was just the right pace; moments were quick and action filled, causing me to flip the pages quickly and other moments were tender and slow building, creating tension.
I was completely blindsided by the ending; I pride myself on being able to figure out the ends of most mysteries, but this one had me fooled.
My only (small) complaint was some of the pacing in the novel; I did find a few points in the middle to drag; then again, I like everything extremely fast paced so I feel like I will be in the minority with this.
Overall, this is a stellar read. Highly recommended. I gave this one a 4.5/5 stars on Goodreads.
Thanks to Jane Harper and Flatiron books for a copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.