One of the most stunning debuts I've ever read ... every word is near perfect

David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Guilty

The Dry

Jane Harper's debut novel

Cover of The Dry by Australian author Jane Harper

Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well…

When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds start bleeding into fresh ones. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret… A secret Falk thought long-buried… A secret which Luke’s death starts to bring to the surface...

The Dry is on sale in Australia (Pan Macmillan), the United States (Flatiron Books) and the United Kingdom (Little, Brown). The Dry has also been sold to more than 20 foreign language territories.

NEW: Read Chapter 1 here first

From the author

My main aim when I was creating The Dry was to write the kind of book I would enjoy reading myself.

I love novels with a mystery element and a few twists and turns along the way – that's what I hope I've delivered with this book.

I feel The Dry is a mystery at its heart but, as I was writing, it became a book about many other things as well – community pressures, what happens when the bonds of loyalty are stretched too far, and how difficult it is for anyone to ever really shed their past.

I wanted to write something that would primarily entertain and engage readers, a story they would hopefully feel inspired to share with their family and friends.

I didn't have any real expectation while I was writing The Dry that it would be widely published, or have a life much beyond my laptop. Winning the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2015 changed that completely.

I have been so lucky to see this book propelled on its journey to publication and I'm thrilled also to see it on the shelves and being supported by so many fantastic booksellers and readers. I hope that you enjoy reading The Dry as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Indie winner

The Dry
Book of the year
Debut fiction of the year

One of the most stunning debuts I've ever read ... every word is near perfect

David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Guilty

With The Dry, Jane Harper immediately takes her place among the elites in the mystery world

John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author of The Fall

The Dry ... shines a light into the darkest corner of a sunburnt country

Michael Robotham, CWA Gold Dagger Winner, bestselling author of Life or Death

Jane's remarkable book possesses my two favourite things: Brilliant writing and an Australian setting

Bruna Papandrea, Executive Producer, Gone Girl, Wild

The Dry Q&A with Jane

  • Was the setting for The Dry inspired by any particular place?

    The fictional town of Kiewarra features heavily in the novel, and is a drought-stricken community in regional Victoria, Australia, five hours from Melbourne.

    The town itself is an amalgamation of many rural communities I visited while working as a journalist in Australia and the UK. While none of those places were anywhere near as dysfunctional as Kiewarra, they helped me get a sense of what it is like for people so reliant on things they cannot control, such as the land and the weather.

    I was also interested in those communities where people have known each other, for better or worse, for most of their lives.

  • How did the main character Aaron Falk develop?

    Aaron Falk left Kiewarra under a cloud as a teenager and built a new life for himself in Melbourne as an officer with the Federal Police. He is a financial investigator who is reluctant to return to Kiewarra and even more reluctant to stay for any length of time.

    I wanted his character to be very much at odds with the people he left behind in the town – he is fairly quiet and cerebral and is a fish out of water on his return. The fact that he is such an outsider allows him to be the readers' eyes and ears and it is through him they experience the shock at just how far this community has fallen.

  • What was the road to publication for The Dry?

    I applied for the Curtis Brown Creative 12-week online novel writing course in late 2014, and as part of the application process submitted a synopsis and 3000-word extract. I came up with an idea for a murder-mystery set in regional Victoria, that eventually became The Dry.

    The course started in October 2014, and I completed a first draft during the 12 weeks. I knew of the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript and set myself the goal of entering, primarily as an artificial deadline to myself to get the novel into shape. I entered the award in April 2015 and in May found out I had won.

    On the back of that I gained agent representation through Curtis Brown Australia; the novel was sold at auction to Pan Macmillan in August 2015 as part of a three-book deal. The Dry has since been sold in separate three-book deals to Flatiron Books in the US and Little, Brown in the UK, as well as being sold for translation in more than 20 territories.

  • What are you working on now?

    I'm currently working on a novel due out in Australia in 2017, and in the US and UK the following year. The main character from The Dry, Aaron Falk, returns and the book is once again based in Australia, but in a different setting. It is similar in tone and feel to The Dry, with a crime and mystery element. The book will build on Falk's character but can be read in its own right rather than as a direct sequel.

  • What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

    I firmly believe writing is a skill that can be taught and learnt. Some people will find it comes more naturally than others but, like any other creative skill such as painting and dancing, most people benefit from expert tuition and advice.

    I had tried a few times to write a novel and never got past the first few chapters. I ended up writing The Dry as part of a 12-week online course run by Curtis Brown Creative out of London. I found the external pressure and feedback helped me to really make progress, and start to believe I could actually finish my book.

    I would advise anyone who is struggling to complete a novel on their own to consider a good quality course and see if that helps bring things together.

  • What's been the best part of the experience?

    There have been so many fantastic moments with The Dry. My dream was always to write a novel that would get published, so one of the absolute best things now is being able to pick up a finished copy of the book and see my own words printed inside.

The Dry reviewed

quotegraphicThe Guardian

A sense of place so vivid you can almost feel the blistering heat add up to a remarkably assured debut
Full review

quotegraphicSyd Morning Herald

There is about The Dry something mythic and valiant ... a quintessential Australian story beautifully told
Full review

quotegraphicThe New York Times

Harper has made her own major mark long before any film version (of The Dry) comes along
Full review