There is an odd moment halfway through The Dry when Aaron Falk, the Federal Police officer unofficially investigating the apparent murder–suicide of the Hadler family in the dismal country town where he grew up, is sifting through items left behind by Karen Hadler, one of the dead. Falk comes across a library book, 'a battered paperback crime novel'; he describes it as, '[s]tandard stuff. Not quite to his taste, but he wouldn't be in the job he was in if he didn't enjoy a good mystery.' The point is belaboured. 'It was an obvious storyline, nothing special'; and 'the realisation that this mediocre thriller could have been the last thing she'd read in her life made him feel deeply depressed'.