Hello! And welcome to a new book review. One I was planning to publish last week, allowing you plenty of time to adjust your Christmas shopping and wish lists accordingly.
Oops. Life is a tricky little thing sometimes, isn’t it?
Oh well. I’m sure that some of you book lovers are yet to complete your Christmas shopping. Or yet to have lodged your wish lists with Santa Claus.
This one’s for you.
The Lost Man / Jane Harper
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? If he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…
Now, I love The Lost Man. The only criticism I can think to level at it is that, as if to make up for the unanswered questions at the end of Force of Nature, The Lost Man seems to answer more questions than have been asked, wrapping them all in a lovely bow just in time for Christmas.
But that’s me searching for something to not like about this book. And it didn’t even work. It didn’t make me not like the book. Not at all.
The Lost Man follows Cameron’s big brother, Nathan. We also meet little brother Bub, their mum Liz, Cameron’s wife Ilse and their two children, Nathan’s son Xander, farmhand Harry and other characters that make living in the isolated outback possible. We also meet characters long past, and feel their lingering impact.
We like Nathan. He’s relatable, and his ostracism (both othered and self-imposed) is so real it feels like our own.
We like Bub. We think we like Bub. Every now and then, we don’t like Bub, and after a while we’re not sure if we’re supposed to like him or not.
I enjoyed the scenic descriptions in this book. This is testament to Harper’s writing. I am not a visual person, and I often find myself skipping ahead during long-winded odes to scenic views and detailed descriptions of buildings and landmarks in other books. In The Lost Man, the scenery (or the lack thereof, depending on your view) is a character itself, and heightens the anguish and relationship tensions.
Some aspects of this story are confronting. Trigger warning: the book includes some instances of domestic violence, abuse and rape. Harper treats the topic with respect and does not include specific details, but if these topics are triggering for you, proceed with caution. I had to take a few breaks while reading, but lines like the second one below helped. Harper gets it.
- Nathan had seen the landscape so often and in so many ways, he was almost blind to it at times, but sometimes, in the right light, it was still breathtaking.
- He hadn’t called anyone for help because it simply hadn’t occurred to him that he could.
- Those in great pain cause others great pain, and I hope, for your sake and for those around you, that you have found some peace.
Have you read The Lost Man? What did you think? (If you include spoilers, please say so in your comment so readers can skip past.)
This is not a sponsored post. I received a copy of The Lost Man from Macmillan for the purposes of review. All views are my own. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click to purchase the item, I may earn a little commission, but you won’t pay any extra.