The Lost Man

by Jane Harper
Flatiron Books, February 2019, $27.99

Australian author Jane Harper snatched global attention and huge accolades (including the prestigious CWA Gold Dagger) for her outstanding debut The Dry. She then showed she was no one-hit wonder when switching from drought-stricken farmland to rainswept forest for her second Aaron Falk thriller. Her new tale The Lost Man returns to the arid landscapes of the Outback, but Falk is nowhere in sight.

The oldest and youngest Bright brothers, Nathan and Bub, meet at a barren border of their vast cattle ranches in the heat-struck expanses of inner Queensland. Their middle sibling, the family’s golden child Cam, is dead at their feet. Everyone who lives in the Outback knows the parched desert can quickly kill, so why would Cam abandon his car and wander to his death at the old stockman’s grave? Had financial worries tipped him over the edge, concerns from his past, or something more sinister? Nathan, who has lived largely in exile in recent years, is thrust into a family situation full of grief, anguish, and questions.

As events unfold, relationships fray and long-hidden truths come to light. Nathan is forced to confront several incidents from his own past, missteps and misperceptions, and the different ways various people view the same events. There’s a taut elegance and quiet intensity to Harper’s prose as she surveys the pressures of Outback farming and the darkness that can hide within families and isolated communities. The Lost Man is a superb tale, brimming with subtext and subtlety.

The Dry was a special book, but this one may be even better; Harper is a special writer.

Craig Sisterson
Teri Duerr
February 2019
Flatiron Books