The Lost Man by Jane Harper

From above, from a distance, the marks in the dust formed a tight circle.

– Opening sentence

Whenever I have the opportunity to be part of a blog tour, I am always hesitant. What if I don’t like the book? I wouldn’t be able to lie in a review (in fact, I’d probably drop out of the tour altogether, and write my review independently).

However, I’d heard such good things about Jane Harper’s previous novels (The Dry and Force of Nature) that I decided to take the risk – and I’m so glad I did because The Lost Man truly lives up to the hype!

I’ll level with you, I’m somewhat of a cover snob and I’ll admit The Lost Man isn’t the most Instagram-worthy cover out there. But we all know what really matters is what’s inside – and what’s inside makes The Lost Man a very special book.

The Lost Man is set in the Australian Outback, which I found super refreshing. I have never been to Australia, and can’t recall reading many books that are set there. In fact, some my only references to the country come from Home and Away and Crocodile Dundee – which I realise probably aren’t very reliable sources.

Harper does a fantastic job of setting the scene, describing a vast and unforgiving barren landscape stretching out for miles and miles. The locals grow up hardened to the weather, ensuring their homes and cars are always equipped with plenty of emergency supplies, in able to survive the scorching desert heat.

So, when a man’s body is discovered 9 kilometres away from his vehicle without so much as a bottle of water in the middle of the dry desert, it raises a lot of questions. Something had been troubling Cameron, but did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects.

The main narration comes from Cameron’s oldest brother, Nathan. Alone on his ranch for most the year, the news of his brother’s death brings him back to the family home. As he struggles to make sense of what happened, he ends up uncovering more than one family secret, each one darker than the other. It’s an emotional journey of abuse and relationships, at times can be quite disturbing.

The plot itself is brilliantly executed, but what really makes this book so special is Harper’s writing. It’s effortless to read, and Harper manages to properly engross the reader and build tension in such a way that I felt like I was holding my breath for chapters at a time. It’s hard to explain, but even when it seemed like nothing much was happening, I found myself unable to put the book down; I simply had to keep reading!

Harper focuses on the characters and their relationships in a way that really gets under your skin, making Nathan’s story so much more than just uncovering the truth about his brother’s death. You’d be forgiven for categorising The Lost Man as just another ‘who-did-it’ crime thriller, but I think this book blurs the boundaries of genres, and would be enjoyed by many readers.

That being said, I always find the true value of a novel of this kind by how easy it is to guess the ending. And although the direction got progressively clearer, it wasn’t until I was right at the end that the pieces finally came together. What’s more, at no point did the plot go beyond plausibility – making it darker still.

The Lost Man easily gets 5 stars from me – but don’t take my word for it. Believe the hype, and read it for yourself!

5 Stars (5 / 5)

Outside, the light was dazzling as he opened the door and went to join his family.

– Final sentence

Disclaimer: A copy of The Lost Man was given to me as part of a blog tour organised by Little, Brown Book Group. I don’t know if my word means anything to you, but I can honestly say this book is 100% my genuine opinion (I would have withdrawn from the tour had I disliked the book).

 

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