The Survivors by Jane Harper [7/10]

A mystery writer with fine motor control of a book’s pace, Jane Harper’s previous best sellers were evocatively imbued with their landscapes, whether the harsh Australian bush, a lush Australian rainforest, or a cattle farm. “The Survivors” takes place in a small Tasmanian coastal town and once again, the author nails the locale: the beach, rocks, and fishing boats. When Kieran, who had fled for the big smoke after tragedy had struck, returns to his home town, and a body turns up on a beach, the past and present collide as he digs into both. The character roster, immediately recognizable from such a town, is skillfully realized, the plot turns are gratifyingly opaque, and the background of disaster and guilt is almost palpable. As with Harper’s first three novels, I read The Survivors in one sitting, and if I questioned whether the climax sold the earlier engrossing pages short, I can still heartily recommend it.

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