The Lost Man by Jane Harper
The Lost Man opens with two brothers finding their middle brother, Cameron, lying dead on an old stockman’s grave, under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland. The Bright family is plunged into grief and anguish as they try to understand what has happened. Why did Cameron leave his air-conditioned car and all it’s supplies, to die on this remote location, with only a scant shadow from the old grave, that would never have protected him from the fierce sun? Something had been troubling him, so did Cameron lose hope and walk towards oblivion? Or is there foul play involved – but in this outback isolation, there will be few suspects.
The Lost Man brings the family together: Nigel, the oldest brother and his son Xander, and Bub, the youngest brother, as well as their mother, and Cameron’s widow Isle and her two daughters. There is also Uncle Harry, who is not a relative, but a trusted family friend. They are searching for answers to what happened in this tragedy, but everything they discover doesn’t quite add up. And in their search for trying to understand Cameron’s death, they are forced to confront many things from the past.
Jane Harper captures the isolation of the community and the unforgiving landscape deftly. The Lost Man is a page-turning read that explores deeper, and often ugly issues, including the psychology of abuse, as the family is forced to confront their demons. But as family secrets come to the surface, there is an underlying hope in a better future.
Jane Harper is an assured novelist, and her brilliance lies in her exploration of human nature, set against a harsh and unforgiving landscape. The Lost Man is a bold, audacious, thought-provoking book, that is sure to spark discussion.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Macmillan, RRP $34.99