The Dry by Jane Harper
A couple of years ago I was taking a trip that would require several long plane rides. This book was recommended as a page turner that was perfect for planes. I got about 2 chapters in and switched to watching terrible movies on the inflight entertainment system.
But a couple of weekends ago, I was looking for something that wasn’t a romance to read and this happened to be at eye level on my bookshelf. I read it in a single day.
Aaron Falk is returning to his hometown for the first time in decades. He was run out of town at seventeen when a girl was found dead in the river and his name was written on a slip of paper in her room. Though he had nothing to do with it, nobody in town believed him. Now, his best friend has seemingly gone crazy and killed himself and his entire family, except his baby girl. Aaron is back for the funeral and a conversation with his friend’s dad who cryptically wrote him a letter hinting that he knew Aaron’s big secret.
Now, Aaron has a week to figure out what happened at his best friend’s farm and, maybe, what happened all those years ago. He’s teamed up with the town deputy to dig through the town’s myriad secrets, hoping one will clear his friend’s name.
I wouldn’t call this a thriller or a suspense. Although there’s a time crunch, the characters never really seem to feel it. There’s no sense of urgency. Everyone believes Luke killed his family, so there’s no killer out there waiting to strike again.
That said, I didn’t dislike this book. It was an engaging story. The characters were likeable enough. The ending was a somewhat unsatisfying, however. It didn’t match the energy of the rest of the book. And I don’t think either mystery was really solvable.
However, it does capture the small town feeling very well. Until I was 10, I lived in a town of 1700 people. And my dad taught at the high school. Which meant everyone knew who I was. And my parents and their friends would sit around on Friday night and gossip about everything that happened in town. So, Harper does a very good job of capturing that aesthetic in her book.
I’m giving this 3/5 stars. It wasn’t the gripping, page-turner I was promised, but I enjoyed it. I even gave it to my dad to read and he also seems to like it. Don’t recommend for a plane ride. But do recommend for a cozy weekend or a road trip through the American West.
The Dry by Jane Harper