The Dry, Jane Harper: Book Review

A small town with big secrets.

The Dry, Jane Harper Book ReviewFlatiron Books / Jane Harper
The Dry Book Cover The Dry
Aaron Falk
Jane Harper
Flatiron Books

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke's steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn't tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there's more to Luke's death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

This review contains quotes from the novel.

*Special thanks to Flatiron Books for allowing us to read Jane Harper’s The Dry.

In Jane Harper‘s The Dry, a novel of pure suspense, one small town is burdened with a big secret that shakes its denizens to the core.

Federal agent Aaron Falk has been away from his hometown for approximately 20 years because he and his father were run-out, or, as the townsfolk would say, “kicked out” of their small town. Aaron held a secret with his best friend Luke revolving around a murder. Luke and Aaron’s friend Ellie drowned many years ago, but later it was learned that she was murdered. And the boys used each other as an alibi; still, everyone else believed they were involved in the murder because they could not come up with a strong enough defense.

After Falk learns that his childhood best friend, Luke, has been murdered as like the rest of Luke’s family, he opts not to go back home because of this troubled past.  But then something out of the ordinary happens: Falk receives a note that reads, Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral.

Faced with sudden suspicion, Falk decides to attend Luke’s funeral because of the threat of this random letter and also because he wants to know who the person is who scribed it. When Falk gets arrives back in town, he is revisited by the ghosts of all of the town’s secrets that he has since tried to forget for nearly 20 years.

“You know, I look at Luke Hadler, and on the surface he had it all–great wife, two kids, decent-enough farm, respect in his community. Why would a man like that turn around one day and destroy his family? It makes no sense. I just can’t understand how someone like him could do something like that.”

Falk rubbed a hand over his mouth and chin. It felt gritty. He needed a shave.

Luke lied. You lied. 

“Raco,” he said. “There’s something about Luke you need to know.”

-excerpt from Jane Harper’s The Dry

Luke’s parents ask Falk to dive deep into why Luke was murdered because they feel as if there is more to the story even though the people in town think otherwise. Luke is blamed to be the one who killed his family and then killed himself.  But of course, Luke’s family does not believe he could do such a violent act. As Falk begins to unravel the mysteries of his hometown, he also finds that, in doing so, he finally has an opportunity to move on from his past by figuring out all of the secrets the town has been hiding. Some of the secrets start to reveal what really happened to Ellie all those years ago and ultimately leads to understanding really transpired with Luke and his family.

In all, this book was a mystery that will stick with me for a long time. It shook me to my very core because I did not see that ending coming. Harper did an excellent with giving the backstory on Falk’s and Luke’s friendship and what really went down between them. I also liked Falk’s character because I knew deep down he was an okay guy. I am excited to read the sequel, Force of Nature. I recommend this to anyone who likes a thriller with one heck of an ending. It is definitely an ending you would not see coming from a mile away.

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Jessica Duffield
the authorJessica Duffield
Contributing Writer
I am a sophomore in college. Books are my passion and I hope to work in book publishing once I graduate.