Cameron Bright's body is found in a remote part of his family's cattle ranch in western Australia; his car, which was stocked with supplies and in perfect working order, is parked nine kilometers away. With no sign of foul play, the police conclude that he simply chose to walk into the desert to his death. Cam's brother Nathan isn't so sure. Cam had a thriving business, employees who respected him, a wonderful family, and seemingly everything to live for. But if it wasn't suicide, what happened? The difficulties of being three hours from the nearest town are exacerbated for Nathan, who lives alone on the neighboring ranch, sometimes going without human contact for weeks at a time. The reasons for Nathan's isolation are revealed gradually and enhance readers' understanding of both the community and the individual. As with Harper's previous books (
The Dry; Force of Nature), the Australian landscape looms large, and it's difficult to imagine the events in this novel playing out the same way anywhere else. VERDICT Even if readers guess why Cam died, they're likely to be kept guessing the how and the who until the end. Recommended for fans of the author and of mysteries set in rural communities. [See Prepub Alert, 8/13/18.] —Stephanie Klose, Library Journal
Harper's books succeed in part because she conveys how even now, geography can be fate. Heat and empty space in her work defeat modernity, defeat logic, technology and even love, throwing us back upon our irreducible selves. By the time she reveals the (brilliantly awful) back story about Nathan's banishment from the few human comforts of Balamarathe pub, for examplethe reader feels frantic for their restoration. The final pages of
The Lost Man are somewhat predictable, but Harper is skillful enough, a prickly, smart, effective storyteller, that it doesn't matter. She's often cynical, but always humane. Book by book, she's creating her own vivid and complex account of the outback, and its people who live where people don't live.
The New York Times Book Review - Charles Finch
Australia’s outback, with its brutal climate and equally bruising isolation, looms as large as any character in this stark standalone from bestseller Harper ( Force of Nature). For years, the three Bright brothers—divorced dad Nathan, the eldest; family man and everybody’s favorite, middle child Cameron; and the mentally challenged youngest, Bub—have maintained an uneasy equilibrium on adjacent cattle ranches. That flies out the window the week before Christmas when Cameron goes missing; his desiccated corpse is subsequently discovered a few miles from his perfectly operational truck in the shadow of the eerie headstone known as the stockman’s grave. Absent any clear indications of foul play, the local authorities undertake a perfunctory investigation, leaving a troubled Nathan to start asking questions that no one wants to answer. In the grim journey that follows, the surviving members of the Bright family must confront some devastating secrets. Harper’s sinewy prose and flinty characters compel, but the dreary story line may cause some readers to give up before the jaw-dropping denouement. Author tour. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Feb.)
“[A] crime masterpiece. The landscape and culture of this remote Australian territory are magnificently evoked as a story of family secrets unfolds. Rarely does a puzzle so complicated fit together perfectlyyou’ll be shaking your head in amazement.” People ...Book by book, [Harper is] creating her own vivid and complex account of the outback.” “All at once enthralling New York Times Book Review “A nuanced but pulse-pounding thriller set in the heart of the Australian Outback, where two brothers find their sibling dead.” Entertainment Weekly "Engrossing… Storytelling at its finest." Associated Press “A timely and riveting family drama set in a desolate area of Queensland that will keep you guessing until the final pages.” BookPage, starred review, “Top Pick of the Month” "Harper's masterful narrative places readers right in the middle of a desolate landscape that's almost as alien as the moon's surface, where the effects of long-term isolation are always a concern. The mystery of Cam's death is at the dark heart of an unfolding family drama that will leave readers reeling, and the final reveal is a heartbreaker. A twisty slow burner by an author at the top of her game." Kirkus, starred review “I absolutely loved The Lost Man. I devoured it in a day. Her best yet!” Liane Moriarty "The atmosphere is so thick you can taste the red-clay dust, and the folklore surrounding the mysterious stockman adds an additional edge to an already dark and intense narrative. The truth is revealed in a surprising ending that reveals how far someone will go to preserve a life worth living in a place at once loathed and loved." Booklist “ The Lost Man is a compulsive, gripping read from start to finish with an atmosphere you can cut with a knife. I was absolutely blown away by it.” Kate Hamer, bestselling author of The Girl in the Red Coat “Jane Harper is at the top of the crime writing genre along with Attica Locke, Megan Abbott, and Tana French…[The Lost Man] slowly builds into one hell of a mystery! I will drop whatever I am doing to read a Jane Harper crime novel.” BookRiot “Harper unfolds the story expertly so that the ending is both unexpected and entirely logical.” Raleigh News & Observer “Quietly unsettling, in a hypnotic and heartbreaking way.” Shelf Awareness “I read it in 24 hours. It’s gripping, atmospheric and ultimately deeply satisfying.” Val McDermid, internationally bestselling author of The Grave Tattoo “I don't have words for how much I loved it. Her other two books were amazing, but this is in a different league. It totally transcends genre, and it should win all the prizes.” Marian Keyes, internationally bestselling author of The Break “I ask in earnest: How the hell does she do it? The Lost Man is Jane Harper’s third consecutive marvel… and, against long odds, her most marvelous yet, pitting brother against brother, man against nature, reader against the clock. What an extraordinary novel: part family drama, part indelible ode to the Outback a thriller as forceful and atmospheric as a brewing storm. Harper works miracles. We’re lucky to witness them.” A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window“ Fabulously atmospheric, the book starts slowly and gradually picks up pace towards a jaw-dropping denouement.” Guardian “Her best yet; it's certainly one of the finest novels of any sort, not only within the genre, that I've read in many moons . . . Harper adroitly blends the tension and brisk pace of a thriller with the psychological acuity and stylish prose of literary fiction.” Irish Independent “Nothing about this novel is predictable. The characters are compelling, the plot is thrilling and the ending is so very satisfying. There’s something special about getting to the end of a book and figuring out the mystery. You’ll be left feeling content, a little shocked and desperate for more.” Marie Claire (Australia) “If you liked The Dry, you'll love it. The Lost Man is an even better book, gripping right to the end. This terrific piece of outback noir opens with the discovery of a body…Harper...paints the menacing landscape brilliantly. The book's title could easily relate to several of the male characters. This engrossing novel will have you thinking long after you've turned the last page.” Herald Sun (Aus) “Harper’s sinewy prose and flinty characters compel…Jaw-dropping denouement.” Publishers Weekly "The novel shimmers with the heat of the Australian outback. I was mesmerized by this extraordinary vast brutal place and Harper's minutely observed, subtle and nuanced story within it." Rosamund Lupton, bestselling author of Sister
A timely novel set in the furthest reaches of Australia by the author of
The Dry (2017) and Force of Nature (2018).
The three Bright brothers are the overseers of 3,500 square kilometers of land in Queensland, with hours between each of their homes. It's a vast, unforgiving environment, and no one ever goes far without a full complement of supplies. When 40-year-old Cameron sets out on his own, ostensibly to fix a repeater mast, he never comes home. His body is eventually spotted, via helicopter, curled up by the stockman's grave, the source of plentiful, and persistent, local ghost stories. Cam's older brother, Nathan, and their baby brother, Bub, are as perplexed as the cop who's come all the way from Brisbane to investigate. What was Cam doing by the grave, and what was his Land Cruiser doing nine kilometers away, still fully stocked with supplies, with the keys left neatly on the front seat? The Brights' mother, Liz, is devastated, and Cam has also left behind his wife, Ilse, and two young daughters, Sophie and Lo. They're pragmatic folks, though, and there's a funeral to be planned, plus Christmas is just around the corner. Everyone seems to assume that Cam took his own life, but Nathan isn't so sure, and there's a strange dynamic in Cam's home that he can't put his finger on. Cam had been acting strangely in the weeks before his death, too. But Nathan's got his own problems. He's eager to reconnect with his teenage son, Xander, who's visiting from Brisbane, and he has a complicated history with Ilse. In the days leading up to the funeral, family secrets begin to surface, and Nathan realizes he never really knew his brother at all. Harper's masterful narrative places readers right in the middle of a desolate landscape that's almost as alien as the moon's surface, where the effects of long-term isolation are always a concern. The mystery of Cam's death is at the dark heart of an unfolding family drama that will leave readers reeling, and the final reveal is a heartbreaker.
A twisty slow burner by an author at the top of her game.