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Book DetailsISBN: 9781760981051
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Book Review: The Survivors by Jane Harper - Reviewed by Sarah (23 Sep 2020)
Readers have come to associate Harper with complex character-based mysteries set in strongly evocative and quintessentially Australian settings. In The Survivors, the action takes place in a (fictional) small coastal town in Tasmania. Kieran Elliott, his wife Mia and baby daughter Audrey have travelled to their home town, to assist his mother to pack up the family home prior to sale. The next morning a young local woman is found murdered at the town beach. Could there be a connection between this recent violent death events that occurred during a wild storm twelve years earlier, when Kieran’s brother and another man were killed at sea and a local girl went missing? Readers of Harper's previous novels will notice a certain correlation of themes with her earlier work - a central character who is (somewhat unfairly) treated as a pariah in a small community, the concept that old sins cast long shadows and the widely varying but universally unforgiving Australian climate. Harper also explores themes of parent-child relationships, grief, anger and guilt. As always, her characters are three-dimensional and their interrelationships complex and evolving. The narrative is well-paced, languid at first, reflecting the pace of the small-town coastal setting, then gathering pace as both the police and Kieran hone in on the truth. Harper skilfully uses red herrings and misdirection to leave the reader guessing, right up to the dramatic conclusion. The setting of the fictional Evelyn Bay is well-imagined by the author, and brought to my mind several settlements around Tasmania's coastline. I was interested to read that the author had spent some time at Eaglehawk Neck, researching cold-water diving for the book. The Survivors is another strong addition by Jane Harper to the wonderful Australian crime genre. Highly recommended. My thanks to Jane Harper, Pan Macmillan Australia and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title in advance of its publication on 22 September 2020.
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