I have spent the past few days secluded in my house because of “the wet”. The rain in Illinois is relentless, keeping me from swimming at Centennial Beach, or riding my Cannondale down the prairie path next to the river. It is understandable how the weather can drive people to distraction; the drought in The Dry, set in fictional Kiewarra in Australia, presents as a character itself. You can feel the heat pressing down on you from every page, as well as the despair which accompanies it.
Luke lied. You lied.
These two lines repeat throughout the book, drawing me in, as I want to know what Luke and his friend, Aaron Falk, lied about. Luke can never tell, because he has been found killed, along with his wife and young son, in the very first pages. It is assumed, at first, that Luke took his life after killing his wife and son. But, why would he leave baby Charlotte crying in her crib? Why were the cartridges Remington, and not Winchester as Luke’s gun used? Too many things point to the possibility that Luke did not, after all, commit the murders everyone in the town believes he has.
Aaron has come to the funeral in his former town at the insistence of Luke’s father, and he stays to uncover the murders of Luke and his family. It seems that each person in Keiwarra has a heavy load. For one thing, there is no money. The drought is killing the crops, killing the income, killing the hope and incentive in an already small and struggling town. Some of the people have turned to alcohol, or gambling; others are simply existing. But, most of them aren’t without suspicion. For there is another murder, of teenaged Luke, Aaron, and Gretchen’s friend, which is also shrouded in blame.
Aaron and his father left Keiwarra twenty years ago, unable to bear the accusations that they had a hand in Ellie Deacon’s, drowning. Ellie lived with her abusive father, Mal Deacon, and her cousin, Grant, under increasing strain which her mother left for her to endure alone. But, when her body was pulled sodden from the dark water, the reasons for her death were never clear. We only know that neither Luke, nor Aaron, would turn from the alibi that they were together on the day she died.
Jane Harper took me through the town, the people, the murders, with such carefully crafted details that I never once felt manipulated. I never once questioned a loose thread; they weren’t to be found. Nor, did I suspect the turns the story would take near its conclusion. It is no wonder, then, that her book has the following recognition and awards:
2018 BRITISH BOOK AWARDS
Crime and Thriller
Book of the Year
2018 BARRY AWARDS
Best First Mystery
2017 UK CRIME WRITERS’
Gold Dagger for
Crime Novel of the Year
2017 SUNDAY TIMES
Crime Book of the Year
2017 PRIX COGNAC
2017 ABIA AWARDS
Book of the Year
Fiction Book of the Year
2017 INDIE AWARDS
Book of the Year
Book of the Year
Best Mystery and
Best Mystery Thriller
2017 NED KELLY AWARDS
Best First Fiction
2017 DAVITT AWARDS
Best Adult Crime Novel
(Thank you to my friend, Lesley, who brought it to my attention a few years ago.)
Glad you enjoyed this one. I read it before it won all those awards, so it’s been gratifying to see it scoop such accolades. Her second book is very good too, but I didn’t like her third which feels amateurish compared with her debut, almost as if it was rushed through to meet a deadline or publisher’s obligation.
I was thinking of you as I read this one, having never been to Australia but feeling like I was there. To me, the drought, was as much a character as a person. I also was very relieved not to find the now-typical dead-woman-who-fill-in-the-blank. I think we’ve discussed this before, about the tiresome plots about disappearing women. I can well imagine that it would be hard to follow up with a novel as engaging or technically well executed as this one. Scott Turow, for example, couldn’t do it. Even E. B. White could not top Charlotte’s Web, in my opinion. It will be awhile before I pick up another of Harper’s as I have so much on my plate: Neal Stephenson’s The Fall, for one, which comes in as a beast of a book.
What an outstanding review, Meredith! As I read, I kept thinking about my reaction and wondered if you had read my thoughts on this mystery by Harper, as well as her follow-up, The Force. I think she is an author to follow and I plan to read The Lost Man later this summer. That is, once I finish binging on all of the Louise Penny mysteries. As far as the rain goes, I’m sorry you have had such a soggy summer. We’ve had pretty nice weather, although we’re camping in Washington this week and the past few days have been pretty gloomy. Perfect, however, for curling up in the RV and reading or watching Game of Thrones between showers. 🙂
Delights to meet another L Penny fan here ….
BookerTalk, I have fallen in love with her books and lovely writing. I wasn’t thrilled with the first two in the series, but now I’m hooked and can hardly wait to move on to the next installment (#9). I’m so happy I have so many more to look forward to, while others are anxiously awaiting the next release in August.
I remember you being the first to tell me of this novel, and I immediately checked out the audio from the library as the written copy was not to be found. Of course, as always happens with me and the library, what I check out is always due before I can finish it, and I had to return it. But, I remember the narrator’s voice being incredible; I can still hear him say, “Luke liked. You lied.” This time I had the ebook, which is due tomorrow, so I read all day yesterday (in the rain).
I love that you are working through Louise Penny books. I hope to do that someday, but now I have a Japanese thriller (shocker!) that is pulling my attention. It is really quite clever; I’ll write about it when I’m done.
The pictures of your travels never cease to thrill me. How I love the water, for one thing, let along the grill you photographed with burning wood in it…
(How’s the bullet journal going?) xo
It rained most of the day here, too. I read quite a bit, which is lovely to do while camping. Thank you for your nice comments about my pictures. I’m still working on blog posts from our 2-month long road trip last fall, but I’ll never be a travel blogger. The pictures and commentary are to document where we’ve been and remind me of places I’d like to visit again (or not!). Nonetheless, I am forever behind with my travel posts! The bullet journal is going great. I love having everything I need in one place and for the first time in decades, I am keeping a daily dairy, which has been a helpful reminder of what I’ve done when. I have several on-going lists at the back of the journal, which are also helpful. Gone are the scraps of papers and scribbled notes from my desk! I’ve even purchased a second matching journal for the second half of 2019. The only change I may make for 2020 is to switch to grid pages rather than the dot. Other than that, I love it!
I’m so glad to hear of your bujo success! I have become a lunatic with my Midori Traveler’s Notebook which I use for the same purpose. I’ve always been a journaler (since the age of 5!) And I usually keep a calendar. But to have everything in one place is heavenly! No more scraps of paper; no more missing years (where did that account/book go?). The only problem now is where to store them! You may like the Midori system as well, since you keep the leather cover and just add the inserts as they fill up.
As for your photographs/travel blog. They are lovely and give me a virtual tour of the places you go. Yet, we don’t have to feel compelled to be official bloggers in that category, do we? My book blog has really become more of a record keeper for myself, as I feel blogging has shifted to social media platforms.
A friend promised me her copy but that was weeks ago and I’m still waiting. I think I’m going to have to just buy this myself. I picked up a cheap copy of The Lost Man in a book sale but now see Lisa didn’t rate that highly. Oh well.
I would say this is book worth buying…perhaps you can find a used copy? I would have sent your mine had it not been from the local library. I have read no others of Jane Harper’s, but a friend of mine on Twitter said the last book was better than The Dry. While other friends have said they are worse…it’s hard to tell what each of us prefers.:) All I know, is that this one did not disappoint me.
I really enjoyed this one too.
But according to Bill, an Australian blogger, her book is full of inconsistencies as far as the nature and places are concerned. (Bill blogs at The Australian Legend)
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That’s so interesting! I didn’t notice any inconsistencies as I’ve never been to the land down under, but I’m sure they could be there.
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Glad this one worked so well for you and, yes, your review was really stellar. Also glad that Les sang the praises and you heard them. Ha! The second book by Harper also features Aaron Falk, but is set in a completely different part of Australia. I agree that the setting is important to the story and it is in the second book as well. I have not read The Lost Man as yet, but it’s a standalone. Enjoy your other reading and I love it when our reading ‘crosses paths’!
I love it when our reading crosses paths, too, Kay! Somehow I have worked myself into a position which works great with many bloggers (and publishers) from overseas, while losing touch with my American friends. I don’t want that to happen, I miss the affinity for reading we all shared in the former days. While I continue to love translated literature, I’m going to read more of what others can relate to. xo
Hi Meredith 🙂 I liked The Dry a lot. I also have the authors 2 newer novels, a real treat 💕
Have you read the other two? I have heard mixed opinions about them.
Good morning Meredith 🌼 no I have not, I heard mostly positive opinions, her third novel especially. I will eventually read her other two 💛
Loved the first book by her–need to get to this one soon.