Tuesday, 11 December 2018

The Lost Man by Jane Harper



” They met by the headstone. Nathan knew he would have to look down at some point. He delayed the moment by opening his mouth.”

 

When I heard the author of The Dry and Force of Nature had another novel published, I was chomping at the bit to get a copy. Thanks to the sheer height of my ‘to be read’ pile, I’ve only just got around to it. Let me start by saying how much I missed Aaron Falk as a character and it took a while for me to get into the rhythm of this standalone novel. Was it, I wondered, because the protagonist wasn’t a particularly charming bloke? Was it the fact that the other two books were so good?  Personally, I think both statements ring true. Nevertheless, I persisted, and it really was worth it in the end.

While the novel commences with the death of Cameron in the outback, it takes quite a while before, as a reader, I felt particularly invested in the mystery behind that outcome. The jury was out on the guy telling the tale, however, that distance, once you get to know the character better, is actually quite brilliant. Nathan is remote, distanced, troubled and his narrative painfully reflects that. This is one of those books that, I think, upon re-reading, would elicit even further praise.

The thing about crime novels that draws you in, is rarely the crime. Characters drive the action and as a reader, I felt I was getting to know these characters as the tale progressed. Their hidden secrets, their communication issues, their foibles and their failings trickle out in a slow, but compelling fashion. The development of the relationship between Xander and Nathan was particularly poignant. I also loved the way my perceptions of characters changed wildly as I discovered (through Nathan) what was really going on.

When I closed the last page somewhere around the witching hour, I’d come to the realisation that this was a yet another stellar read from a fantastic author. I’ll be buying whatever she ships next!

 

 

5 out of 5 dusty trails and backpackers don’t mix.

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