The Lost Man by Jane Harper
21st October 2021.
A man is found dead by the weathered gravestone of an old stockman in the heat of the Australian outback. What was he doing out there without water or transport? No signs of a struggle or murder. A few miles away, his vehicle, fully equipped with food and water, is found. Why did he abandon it and travel on foot in the scorching temperatures?
This is a story that unfolds slowly and achingly as a cattle farming family comes to terms with the unexplained death of Cameron, the middle of three brothers, the week before Christmas.
This is Australia’s outback – vast distances, unrelenting heat, flooding once a year and small town communities, often several hours away by car. It’s a place that shapes the people who live and work there. But those people have grown to become part of outback. One detective, one medic, covering thousands of square miles. Nothing happens quickly out here.
As one small clue is uncovered after another, the darker side of Cameron’s life, the relationships with a tyrannical father, and past secrets slowly come to light, changing opinions and perceptions to ultimately reveal the truth about the man and how he died.
The story is beautifully described and delivered, showing the hardships endured by these people, the tensions within families, often isolated from others for months, and the past secrets that come to the surface when tragedy strikes.
It’s a haunting story that slowly grips you and draws you in, refusing to let you go until the final page.
If you’re looking for something a little different, something that’s beautifully crafted, driven by characters and secrets, you won’t be disappointed. This is the perfect antidote to formulaic police procedurals.
He had started to remove his clothes as logic had deserted him, and his skin was cracked. Whatever had been going through Cameron’s mind when he was alive, he didn’t look peaceful in death.
Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.
They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.
Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…