New Release Book Review: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Lost Man…

About the Book:

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

Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland.

They are 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 chance for their middle brother, Cameron.

The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and 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.


My Thoughts:

In Jane Harper’s third novel, she takes the reader on a journey into remote Western Queensland, a hot, dry, arid region with a vast and unforgiving landscape. Jane did much of her research for this novel in the area of Birdsville (see her author notes for more detail). About 11 hours directly north, you reach Mount Isa, my home, so the landscape and lifestyle depicted in The Lost Man is all too familiar to me. Jane Harper has such a keen sense of place and her writing brings the scenery of her story to life with vivid, and accurate, detail. Right from her first novel, this has been one of Jane’s strengths.

‘At night, when the sky felt even bigger, he could almost imagine it was a million years ago and he was walking on the bottom of the sea. A million years ago when a million natural events still needed to occur, one after the other, to form this land as it lay in front of him now. A place where rivers flooded without rain and seashells fossilised a thousand miles from water and men who left their cars found themselves walking to their deaths.’

The Lost Man opens with a crime, but as the novel progresses, it becomes less of a case of who killed Cameron and more about why he ended up dead. In line with this, The Lost Man is styled as a family drama, with the dynamics between the family members and their respective histories, both on an individual basis as well as collectively, taking precedence over the crime. This really appealed to me, particularly the issues that Jane honed in on. Intergenerational family violence within the context of remote isolation is intimately explored and I feel that Jane handled this well, balancing out the effects over the three brothers, along with the far reaching consequences of this legacy for all members of the Bright family. She also brought in themes of consent and masculine manipulation, casting a light on the vulnerability of women in the outback, where help can be hours away and support rather thin on the ground. And of course, this isolation does not only affect outback women. Rural Australia can be a lonely place, a stressful existence, for both men and women, where hope is sometimes stripped away and slow to return. The Lost Man is an important novel, depicting a part of Australia that many will never see, spotlighting very real and serious issues that are uniquely rural, and consequently, more hidden. Intelligent narratives that raise awareness of the unique aspects associated with living in rural and remote Australia will always have my full support.

‘The blunted edges of the memory had suddenly become cut-throat sharp, threatening to slip and slice him if not handled with care.’


Thanks is extended to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of The Lost Man for review.

About the Author:

Jane Harper is the author of the international bestsellers The Dry and Force of Nature. Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with film rights sold to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea. Jane has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year. Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne with her husband and daughter.

The Lost Man
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia
Released on 23rd October 2018

12 thoughts on “New Release Book Review: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

  1. Hi Theresa, I have only just recently read Jane’s first book, The Dry, and really enjoyed it. I have her second book lined up and I will be definitely adding this one. In July we went out to Birdsville for the Big Red Bash. It is remote and the landscape is harsh, but I also found it to be beautiful, in a stark way. Unfortunately, I haven’t made it to Mt Isa yet, but isn’t it wonderful the way we can connect with each other, no matter how far apart we are physically, and yet it feels like we could be just around the corner. Have a Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I’m not a fan of crime novels as you know, but this one sounds as if it might be worth investigating. Stephen Orr is also very good at remote farming issues: The Hands is particularly good and why it didn’t win any prizes is a mystery to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is certainly not a straight up crime novel. More like crime that is the catalyst for everything else. I think you would appreciate this one, and I’d love to read your thoughts on it, so my encouragement is in part selfish! But from a point of view where she examines rural societal issues, it’s excellent. Rural Sociology was one of my majors at university so novels that examine it with such precision really hold my interest and admiration.


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