Friday, May 03, 2019

Haunting Outback Mystery Another First-Rate Australian Page-Turner

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Despite being both brothers and neighbors, Nathan, Bub, and Cameron Bright don't come together often.  Nor will they ever again.  For the first time in months, Nathan and Bub meet at the fence line that divides their expansive cattle ranches in the lonely Queensland outback.  Cameron, the middle brother, lies dead at their feet.  A victim of the brutal landscape and unforgiving weather, he's been killed by exposure.  The question is, how?  And why?  As a lifelong resident of the place, Cameron knew better than anyone not to stray into the miles of empty outback without proper supplies.  What was he doing out there?  Nothing about Cameron's death makes any sense.

Nathan's got enough problems dealing with issues at his own ranch, trying to communicate with his estranged teenage son, and keeping his distance from the tiny town that banished him long ago, but he can't stop obsessing over his brother's strange death.  The more he questions those that spent the most time with Cameron—his wife, his daughters, their mother, a long-time employee, and two seasonal workers—the more Nathan begins to suspect that something sinister is going on under the placid surface of Burley Downs.  Someone knows more about Cameron's death than they're saying, but who?  And why would anyone want to harm the ranch's charming manager?  The more questions Nathan asks, the more disturbing are the answers he finds.  As long-buried secrets come to light, Nathan will come to realize that the people closest to him, both physically and emotionally, might be the ones he knows least of all ...

Jane Harper's popular debut and sophomore novels are installments in an intriguing mystery series starring Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk.  Surprisingly, her newest does not continue the series.  Although it riffs on similar themes as her first two books, The Lost Man, her third, is a standalone.  At first, I was disappointed to find out it wasn't a Falk book, but it didn't take more than a few pages to convince me that The Lost Man would be just as good as Harper's others.  Maybe even be better.  Like the author's previous novels, this one features interesting, complex characters; an atmospheric, unforgettable setting; and a twisty, compelling mystery.  All of these elements combine to create a first-rate page-turner, which is as engrossing as it is haunting.  Although the story it tells is undeniably sad and depressing, The Lost Man held me completely captive as I raced through its pages to see what would happen next.  If you enjoy the Aaron Falk series or just intriguing crime fiction in general, you'll find this one a riveting, satisfying read.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The Dry and Force of Nature, both by Jane Harper)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, violence, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Lost Man from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

8 comments:

  1. I did enjoy her first two books, the second the most. I'm looking forward to listening to this one too. Glad to hear it is good even not continuing the series.

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    1. I'll be interested to hear what you think of this one. I enjoyed it, although it's definitely sad and depressing.

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  2. This sounds great! I'm not a super fan of thrillers, but do enjoy a good one every so often. Great review!

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    1. This is a good one and, really, it's more mystery than thriller. It's not one of those that leaves you breathless with all the crazy, adrenaline-fueled action, but it's a solid suspense-filled mystery that will keep you guessing and turning pages.

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  3. I feel like I have OD'd on thrillers, but feel like detective mysteries are calling to me. I'll add this one to the list. Than you!

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    1. I'm feeling that way, too. Like I said above, this one is more mystery than thriller. It's also not really a detective novel, since the investigator is the victim's brother, not a professional cop. Harper's other books are police procedurals, although they're both set in remote locations. I hope you do give Harper a try. She's a great new author!

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  4. I thought this one was a third in the series and as I did not read the first two, passed on this one. I will have to see if I can get it on audio, although I am not sure if I need to read something sad. Nice review Susan.

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  5. I love the Australian setting. I've not read this author before, so I'm adding this one to my list. Thanks.

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