The Dry: Jane Harper

Book style: Murder mystery/psychological thriller

Beer style: Pale Ale by COOP Aleworks

This was a book that I think I’d seen in Real Simple, or heard on a podcast. I can’t remember – I’m just kind of sure that it was some sort of recommendation. Either way I heard about it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I did hear about it and I’m glad I did. This book is a murder mystery with twists and angles that keep you guessing throughout.

The book takes place in Kiewarra, Australia and the main character is Aaron Falk, a federal agent living in Melbourne, who grew up in Keiwarra. As a teenager, he’d been forced out of town with his father when Falk became a person of interest in the death of their friend Ellie. Falk’s friend Luke, quickly came up with an alibi for the both of them, saying they were hunting together. Falk never found out why Luke came so quickly to put them together during the alibi, but he had trusted his friend and figured he was trying to help him out.

Now Falk is back in town for the funeral of his childhood friend, who, from initial glance, killed his own wife and child, and then himself. The idea of the event is shocking to him, and a task that’s just as difficult is coming back to a town he was pushed out of. He sees h another childhood friend, Gretchen, and speaks to her for a while, before meeting up with Luke’s parents. Luke’s father takes Falk aside and asks him to investigate Luke’s death; there is no way in his mind that his son could ever kill himself.

For Falk, all of this is hard to take in. For one, his specialty in the federal agency is money related, not homicide. Second, the police report is pretty convincing that it was a murder suicide. The town had been deteriorating for sometime due to the extreme drought (The Dry) and people’s moods and tensions all over town had been rocky. A lot of folks in town figured something like this was waiting to happen.

He decides to humor Luke’s father and meets up with the lead investigator, Raco, at the Kiewarra Police. Raco points out a few things that don’t sit right for him. (Luke’s wife died at the door, like she was answering it; the child’s room was a mess, like the killer had to look for the child’s hiding spots – what parent doesn’t know his child’s hiding spot?). This is enough to spark curiosity into Falk to stay for the week and do some investigating for them.

Falk realizes quickly that even after being gone for two decades doesn’t make staying in the town any easier. Old grudges and bitterness have held on in some people’s hearts and minds and Falk quickly learns he’s still not welcome.

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I chose Spare Rib Pale Ale by COOP Aleworks as my beer of choice for this book. I loved the skeletons on the can – I thought that fit well in the book – and the flavor was bright, an exact opposite of this book, so this ale was a good balancer.

This book kept me engaged from the first page, all the way to the end, and had me guessing a few different times. I really enjoyed each character and Jane’s writing style. I saved her next Aaron Falk book, slated to be out next year and I can’t wait to read it.

For anyone who likes murder mysteries and psychological thrillers, I highly recommend it. I’ve read plenty of both genres and this was a breath of fresh air.

Overall rating: 9.5/10

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