The Dry by Jane Harper

This is an enjoyable page-turner of a mystery tour through modern-day, small-town Australia. Harper writes in third person, so she is able to head-hop around the large cast of characters and travel back in time to when our hero sleuth was a teen and interacted with the characters who would go on to become victims, suspects and allies and the quest to find out whether his farmer pal really had killed his own wife and son in a horrific murder-suicide, or whether there was more to it than met the eye. I think it’s no spoiler to say, it was the latter. The novel was well structured, with plenty mini-reveals, plenty of hooks at the ends of chapters, a couple of twists I didn’t quite see coming, and characters that felt believable if a bit cliched. Clues were well-planted that meant the ending was suitably satisfying, resolving the main plot and the sub-plot backstory of the sleuth’s youthful exploits. All in all, an enjoyable, satisfying atmospheric whodunnit that if I had to summarise would be: a well-plotted Western set in contemporary rural Australia.

* * *

No. 18 of 100 books I intend to read and review in 2021.

Patrick Sherriff is an Englishman who survived 13 years working for newspapers in the US, UK and Japan. Between teaching English lessons at his conversation school in Abiko, Japan, he writes and illustrates textbooks for non-native speakers of English, releases Hana Walker mystery novels, short stories, essays and a monthly newsletter  highlighting good fiction published in English about Japan. Saku’s Random Book Club is his latest project to spend more time with books.