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Friday, April 27, 2018

The Dry (2017) by Jane Harper


Book Review
The Dry (2017)
 by Jane Harper

  When I look for new books to read, I'm generally looking either for major literary award nominees or books that border between genre fiction and literary fiction.  The Dry, by Australian crime-fiction writer Jane Harper, is one of those boundary books, clearly a work of detective fiction, but also skillful and deep enough to qualify as literary fiction at the same time.  The Dry gets extra points for being a debut novel AND for taking place in an interesting locale: A small Australian farming community located outside of Melbourne. 

  I managed to obtain the Los Angeles Public Library audiobook after waiting for several months.  I'm positive I heard about it at the end of last year when it made some year end lists- the original publication date was in January of last year.  The narrator had a pleasing Australian accent, truly the performance of an audiobook is a skill in and of itself, often requiring the reader to "do" different voices, ages and genders.  I'm unclear as to whether the accent was regionally specific, but my ignorance didn't detract from the listening experience.

    Jane Harper has already moved on to book 2 in what is now called the "Aaron Falk" series.  Falk, a detective/investigator with the Federal Australian Police in their financial crimes department, returns home to grapple with the apparent murder-suicide of his childhood friend, wife and one of two children and simultaneously deal with the fall out of a mysterious death of his high school (girl) friend.  And while there is nothing particularly original about any of the elements, other than perhaps, the location in rural Australia, Harper shows herself a deft writer, with a solid grasp of literary technique as well as the mechanics of genre.   She creates a double mystery, and the conclusion leaves the reader satisfied.  The Dry is a must both for genre fans of detective fiction and readers of Australian literary fiction. 

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