Lead Review

  • Book: The Dry
  • Location: The Outback
  • Author: Jane Harper

Review Author: tripfiction



My reading year year 2017 started with this excellent novel – The Dry is one to watch out for!

It also features in Elle Magazine’s US edition in the list of the most potent, relevant and important fiction of the year! That is an accolade for sure!

fullsizeoutput_26eeIt is set in the fictional town of Kiewarra several hours drive from Melbourne. It is a hot, dry prolonged spell and the people are getting antsy as the heat roils around the dusty roads. Things are dying… and people are too.

The death of three members of the Hadler family is at the heart of the novel, mum and wife Karen; husband and father, Luke, and their son Billy. Baby Charlotte has been left unharmed and everything points to Luke as the perpetrator. Maybe there were financial worries, but could Luke really have killed his family?

A childhood friend and police officer – Aaron Falk – comes to the funeral and is persuaded to stay and poke around, see if he can come up with anything. Luke’s family simply cannot believe Luke would do something like this.

But Aaron has history in Kiewarra and has never quite shaken off being implicated in the death Ellie, a member of their teenage group. He therefore becomes a target for those who have long memories and perhaps their own axe to grind….

The author is exceptionally skilled at bringing to life the tensions of small town life, and the innate prejudices which inevitably smoulder, all exacerbated by the dry, taxing heat of the surroundings. She also neatly feeds into the story potential suspects with credible motives, as Aaron takes his time to trawl through the clues and motives. The pace can at times be ponderous but that is ok, it reflects the heat and lethargy that these high temperatures bring.

I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it. I was left wondering, however, about the initial interpretation of the murders. Do they not have competent policing procedures in the Outback? Just a minor quibble in a very good story.

Check out our review of this book on YouTube


Back to book

Sign up to receive our e-newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021