book review: The Dry by Jane Harper



THE DRY by Jane Harper
Flatiron Books, 2017


This was a perfectly competent thriller and I’m not sure I have much else to say about it. I will admit I had been expecting something a bit more… unique? shocking? twisted? original? – because it seems to be so universally adored. But it’s clearly so adored because it’s a perfectly solid book that’s pretty hard to find fault with.

The setting is just perfect, the arid Australian farmland brought to life vividly. It’s funny how the setting of a thriller never seems to be the most important element, but it’s always a bit striking when you find one set somewhere other than small town England or wintry Scandinavia or New York City. Characters and environment play off each other well, and Harper captures that small-town claustrophobia perfectly.

I do have one huge criticism, and that’s the use of italicized flashbacks to show backstory. Frankly I found it lazy – can you really not work that information into the description and dialogue? – but it also pulled me out of the story constantly. You’d be in the middle of a meeting between a detective and a suspect, and all of a sudden you get two paragraphs in italics about the detective’s childhood, and it really did not work for me.

But, ultimately I was satisfied. I read it in two days, it was a compelling read, the big reveal was perfect, and there were enough subplots and character intrigue that it’s gripping from start to finish. I’m definitely interested in checking out the sequel, with hopes that the italicized flashbacks do not continue. 3.5, I am having the hardest time settling on a star rating and whichever one I end up clicking in two seconds is going to be a rather arbitrary choice.

9 thoughts on “book review: The Dry by Jane Harper

    • Thanks so much! Totally agree – when I think about what makes a good thriller, ‘setting’ is not the first thing that comes to mind, but when I think about my favorite thrillers that I’ve read, I’m realizing they’ve all utilized setting really effectively.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ugh, italics. It sounds like they were put to poor use, but even when italics are productive they bother me- I always read them in a different “voice,” even in my head. But The Dry has been on my radar for quite a while, maybe I’d have better luck with a thriller that I can expect competency from than I’ve been having with overhyped thrillers this year. The Australian setting sounds appealing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The italics were KILLING ME!! I think there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this book otherwise, but I have no doubt that the italics will drive you up the wall. It’s almost every single page and it’s just not done well at all. But otherwise, I thought it was a really competent thriller and definitely a good contender if you’re looking for something to break your thriller slump.

      Liked by 1 person

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