Author: Jane Harper
Publication Date: October 23, 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
The Lost Man is the third book by talented Australian author Jane Harper and it’s another 5 star read for me.
The Lost Man is set in the vast outback of Queensland. Two brothers meet at the border of their neighbouring cattle properties, at the legendary landmark that is the stockman’s grave. A landmark that has been a part of the landscape for so many generations that no-one remembers the truth of the site.
The stockman’s grave casts a shadow that offered little hope for the middle Bright brother Cameron when he found himself under the relentless outback sun.
Cameron’s death raises many questions and through the anguish of saying goodbye the family is left to try and unravel the mystery. Cameron had been troubled in recent months, did he lose hope and walk into the unforgiving sun because if not the isolation leaves few suspects.
The Lost Man is a slow burning suspense that is completely character driven. The cast of characters is quite small because the Bright cattle properties are so large, and so far out of town, that the only real interactions are the family and the staff. Town is a number of hours away and there is only a single police officer, who happens to be hours in the other direction when Cameron is found.
Nathan is the older Bright brother, living on an adjoining property to the rest of the family and still about a 3hr drive away. He is living a life more isolated, and is deemed a much greater risk. He often leaves his radio off and is completely uncontactable, which concerns everyone who cares about him. He had issues in town a couple of years ago and has been shut out and shunned, completely unwelcome in his hometown. Nathan has grown accustomed to the isolation and now can go months without hearing another voice or seeing another person.
Cameron seemed to have it all together; lovely wife, two gorgeous daughters, a successful cattle property and the respect of the town. What is it that was troubling him? No-one seems to know.
Harper has woven a captivating tale of the hardships of life on the massive cattle properties in outback Queensland, the isolation, the stress, the risks associated with supplies if there are floods. It really is almost unimaginable to me to try and picture what life would be like. Add to all of that distance and isolation the prospect of mental health issues or medical issues and how do you ensure everyone’s wellness. More to the point how do you recognise the signs of someone being at risk?
Cameron’s death looks pretty cut and dried but there are things that just don’t quite add up. Nathan and his teen son Xander continue investigating on their own because it’s too hard to just accept that things are as they seem with so many inconsistencies. The question is how do you move forward when you don’t like what you uncover?
The Lost Man was a captivating story that I should have read in a short matter of days but just lately my books are almost gathering dust, much to my dismay. I was invested in these characters, their heartaches, their grief and their decisions. We uncover a lot of the past and the way that it shapes our present.
A slow burning suspense of endurance, of courage and of finding the strength to change the shape of the future.
The Lost Man is book #46 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.
The Lost Man is available now through Pan MacMillan, Booktopia, Angus & Robertson and where all good books are sold.