The Lost Man

Jane Harper

The Lost Man
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The Lost Man

Jane Harper

Winner of the Davitt Award for Readers' choice 2019

Winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction 2019

The man lay still in the centre of a dusty grave under a monstrous sky.

Two brothers meet 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.

Something had been troubling him. Did Cameron choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

For readers who loved The Dry and Force of Nature, Jane Harper has once again created a powerful story of suspense, set against a dazzling landscape.

‘Harper’s books succeed in part because she conveys how even now, geography can be fate. Book by book, she’s creating her own vivid and complex account of the outback.’ New York Times  


Jane Harper won so many awards for her debut novel, The Dry, that I could use my entire word count just listing them. But if I did that, I wouldn’t have the chance to tell you to go and read this, her standalone third book, and another powerful read that cements her as one of Australia’s premier authors.

The Lost Man will coat everything you know in a thin layer of red dust as you sit, immobilised by the story of Cameron Bright, the man found dead and burned from the heat beside a lone grave in the middle of the desert, nine kilometres from his well-stocked, air-conditioned – and perfectly working – four-wheel-drive.

In a place like Balamara, neighbours live hundreds of kilometres apart, roads lie empty for days and the isolation can make people do crazy things to escape the world, but Cam – who had plans to meet his younger brother that day, and wasn’t that type of person – would surely have chosen a less brutal way out. At least, that’s what Cameron’s older brother, Nathan, thinks, not that he’s seen much of Cam lately himself. Or anyone else for that matter, since the entire community hates him, and his immediate family lives three hours away. But now, with his teenage son visiting him for the Christmas holidays, and his brother’s funeral looming, Nathan can’t shake all the unanswered questions out there in the vast expanse of Queensland outback.

This is raw, unadulterated rural crime; all that nothing becomes an intense something in Harper’s hands. Events unfold in a simmering slow burn that is impossible to tear your eyes from, and Harper hones her focus on a small fistful of characters that populate an area the size of entire European countries, making everything small and enormous at once. Christmas is coming – and you should buy this for everyone you know.

Fiona Hardy is our monthly crime fiction columnist, and also blogs about children’s books at Fiona The Hardy.

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