Book Review: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

I’ve read every book written by Jane Harper and her latest, The Lost Man, certainly did not disappoint.

Cameron and Bub are brothers who have arranged to meet each other on the border of their large cattle property located in outback Queensland. Cameron doesn’t turn up and after a search, is found dead at a legendary stockman’s grave in the middle of nowhere. What’s puzzling is his car is found nine kilometres away. The car hasn’t broken down and is fully stocked with water and food and the driver’s door left ajar.

Cameron lived in the old family homestead with his wife, two daughters, his younger brother Bub and his mother.  Nathan, the older of the three brothers, who hadn’t seen his family in months has his sixteen-year-old son Xander staying with him when he gets the call about Cameron. It’s through his eyes that the reader is taken on a journey of family mystery and intrigue.

Cameron had been agitated in the months leading up to his death and with one policeman to cover hundreds of kilometres of remote area, it’s concluded that with no sign of violence or tampering with his car that he deliberately walked to his death. Nathan is not convinced.

The characters are very well drawn and the layers of the family’s history are cleverly peeled away revealing multiple secrets. The landscape, red dust and suffocating heat was beautifully descriptive of how harsh life is in the outback.

“He adjusted his mirrors as the sun’s reflection rose, blinding red behind them. They were heading west, towards the desert, and the sky loomed huge above the perfect flat horizon. By the time they hit the edge and turned north, they would be able to see the dunes; huge sandy peaks running north to south for hundreds of kilometres.”

Indeed, the central theme around mental health issues in the outback is well covered, the lack of resources and the isolation for both women and men is all too real.

“He had lain there, anxious and unsettled, as it dawned on him. He was entirely alone. No staff. Nothing but static on the radio… There was not a single other person near him for hours in every direction. He had been cast fully and completely adrift.”

There is such a lot in this book and like The Dry, I was guessing what happened right up until the end and was certainly surprised. I’m still trying to the digest the motivation and can’t say I’m fully convinced. Saying anymore would be to divulge the spoilers and that wouldn’t be fair. So, I guess that’s a good enough reason to read it yourself. It’s certainly a page turner and a perfect summer read and I’ll let you judge if you think the ending was right.

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