Book Description: 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…
Delighted to be taking part today for The Lost Man Blog Tour
Within this book we meet the Bright brothers and their family. Nathan, Cameron and Bub. They live and work on remote cattle stations in Queensland miles from town and close to the desert. Owning neighbouring land, that is so vast, they can go months without seeing each other.
Cameron is found dead by the stockman’s grave. An old legend of a story known to the locals. He has been killed by exposure to the intense heat, yet seems to have abandoned his car, in full working order with all his supplies still inside. Why? Suicide is not unheard of in these parts but Nathan, his older brother, doesn’t think this is the case. We follow him and the rest of his family though out the book as he delves into the lives of everyone that could have been involved. Trying to find out what has happened and unearthing from the red dusty soil a lot more on the way.
An Extract from THE LOST MAN
The headstone threw a small shadow. It was the only shade in sight and its blackness was slippery, swelling and shrinking as it ticked around like a sundial. The man had crawled, then dragged himself around as it moved. He had squeezed into that shade, contorting his body into desperate shapes, kicking and scuffing the ground as fear and thirst took hold.
He had a brief respite as night fell, before the sun rose and the terrible rotation started again. It didn’t last as long on the second day, as the sun moved higher in the sky. The man tried though. He chased the shade until he couldn’t anymore.
The circle in the dust fell just short of one full revolution. Just short of twenty-four hours. And then, at last, the stockman finally had company, as the earth turned and the shadow moved on alone, and the man lay still in the centre of a dusty grave under a monstrous sky.
Jane Harper, in an interview for The New York Times, called The Lost Man a study in isolation and she is not wrong. This book really is about the setting as much as it is about it’s characters. The remoteness and isolation. The heat and extreme weather. The practicalities needed because of it and most definitely the effects this landscape has on the people that live there. As we move through the book, in Nathan’s hunt for the truth behind his brother’s death, he unearths parts of everyone’s lives, including his own, that pay testament to this. Events that have been long buried and more recent episodes that are being kept hidden or unaddressed. A masterclass in writing about truly believable characters and what their pasts have done to them and wonderful insights into the emotional aspects of what it is to live in this type of remote family life.
I particularly enjoyed her attention to detail in areas like the supplies and tools needed to be kept in their cars whenever they are travelling around in case they break down in the hospitable and deadly weather. The massive cold storage areas that are required to keep food and the role of the ‘local’ doctor and policeman in keeping check on people and their mental and emotional state. You can tell this book has been researched extremely well.
The story of Cameron’s death moves slowly through the book and this allows the reader to really appreciate the setting and lives of the characters that establish the plot. Cameron’s death is what starts and ends this story. What you get in between are wonderfully written narratives about the individual lives of each of the character’s, all interwoven together to establish the reasons for why Cameron’s died. This makes for a wonderfully atmospheric read.
I enjoyed Jane’s other two novels The Dry and Force of Nature. This is a standalone novel and another fantastically absorbing read.
I would like to thank @caolinndouglas for the invite to take part in this blog tour.
The Lost Man is out now and is published by Little,Brown