AD: Book Review ~ The Lost Man by Jane Harper

I was recently offered the chance to read and review The Lost Man by Jane Harper. I received a copy of the book from the publishers, in exchange for a review.

Synopsis

Three brothers. One Death. No Answers. 

He had started to remove his clothes as logic had deserted him, and his skin was cracked. Whatever had been going through Cameron’s mind when he was alive, he didn’t look peaceful in death.

Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of Outback Queensland. They are at the Stockman’s Grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects… 

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I’ve read and reviewed both of Jane Harper’s previous novels, The Dry, and Force of Nature. Both of those stories featured the same police officer, investigating two different cases. When I was offered the chance to review this one, I assumed that it was going to be the third in that series, so I was surprised when I discovered that it was a standalone story, though I needn’t have worried, because I think this was Harper’s best book yet.

Like her previous two novels, The Lost Man is set in the Australian outback, and once again, the location is hugely important to both the story and the atmosphere. Nathan, the oldest of three brothers, meets his youngest brother Bub, at the Stockman’s Grave, a local landmark, where their other brother, Cameron, has been found dead. Nathan lives apart from his family, at the next farm along, which happens to be hundreds of kilometres away. Everyone is isolated by the geography of the region, with Nathan having lived in exile on his own farm due to events from a decade previously.

The mystery of Cameron’s death is that he was used to life in these unrelenting surroundings, so it’s extremely unlikely that he would have left his vehicle without the necessary provisions. This leads police to believe that he must have taken his own life, but Nathan isn’t so sure, and begins his own investigations into his brother’s death.

Everything we learn about the family comes through Nathan’s eyes, who, having kept his distance, is finding out things that even he didn’t know. The story is revealed slowly and deliberately; this is a real slow-burn of a book, with family secrets buried deep.

Once again, as with her other two novels, I was blown away by Harper’s ability with both character and plot. The tension of the story, building to a climax with the reveal of what happened, and why it happened, grows to a point where I literally could not put this book down. The characters are, for the most part, people who I love spending time with, and as with Aaron Falk from Harper’s first two books, I found myself missing Nathan once he was gone.

Everywhere I look, I see that I’m not alone in my love for Jane Harper’s incredible stories, and I’m also not alone in loving each new book a little more than the last. With a trajectory like this, I really cannot wait to see what comes next!

The Lost Man by Jane Harper
Publication Date: 7th February 2019
Little Brown
Provided by publisher

 

Blog Tour ~ Force of Nature by Jane Harper

26363669_820356591500735_835523176619311104_nAlice Russell is missing. She went on a team building exercise in the Australian bush, with the company on who she is currently whistleblowing, and while her four colleagues made it back safely, she didn’t, and nobody seems to know what happened.

Aaron Falk, the federal police agent who readers first met in Jane Harper’s debut novel The Dry, has been secretly working with Alice to uncover some of the financial wrongdoing of the company she works with. When he discovers that she is missing, despite being an officer with the financial division, he’s drawn into the investigation,

Following on from The Dry, which I read and reviewed last year, I had no idea that Jane Harper’s next novel would feature Aaron Falk, figuring that this would be a stand-alone novel. The story itself is completely distinct from the family murder from Harper’s first book, but the consistency in the lead investigator of Falk is great; he’s a great character who I really enjoy spending time with. Although the focus of the story is with the missing Alice, Force of Nature continues to explore Falk’s relationship with his father, which made up a large part of the first book.

The case itself is a fun one to follow; the timeline splits into two, so we start almost at the end, with four women emerging from the outback, and one of them missing. We then go back to the start, discovering each woman’s character, and finding out exactly what happened, and why Alice goes missing. Interspersed with this action, we are part of the investigation with Falk, so as the police start to piece together what has happened, the narrative from the lost women approaches its climax, and the two timelines culminate together.

It’s a really fantastic crime novel, and it builds to such a pace that, as with all good crime stories, you reach a point where the whodunnit/what happened is so close to being revealed that you won’t want to put it down before you find out!

 

 

Book Blog Tour ~ The Dry by Jane Harper

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The worst drought to hit Australia in a century is already causing tensions to run high in Kiewarra, a small farming town that hasn’t seen rain for two years. Things become unbearable when a local family is murdered, and the only suspect is Luke, husband and father, who appears to have killed himself after gunning down his wife and son.

Luke’s childhood friend Aaron Falk is the protagonist who leads the reader through the story. As a police officer himself, he is drawn into the investigation into the family’s deaths, and his presence in his childhood home forces him to confront some of the lies and secrets that caused him to leave in the first place.

Through the clever use of flashbacks, the reader learns that Aaron and his father were implicated in the death of a teenage girl decades earlier, after she drowned and left a note showing only one word – their surname. This old mystery runs alongside the current investigation into the murders of the Hadlers, and though Aaron would rather leave the past in the past, secrets refuse to stay buried, and the two cases become intertwined.

The crime at the centre of the novel is a strong one, and one that will keep readers guessing. The oppressive feeling of returning to a place long consigned to memory is compounded by the heat of the weather; Aaron is struggling with his return to a community that effectively ran him out of town, and this feeling is emphasised by the brutality of the drought conditions. There is no respite from the weather, or the lack of weather as far as rain is concerned, and the pressure mounts throughout the novel as it becomes clear that this community is on the brink of total devastation.

The Dry is my first read of 2017, and it was a pleasure to read it. The film rights have already been acquired, and it’s obvious that in the right hands, this could be adapted to a taut and atmospheric crime thriller.

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