Hello Readers! I’ve got a new title from a favorite author to share with you today. This book came out recently and is the latest stand-alone from Australian mystery writer Jane Harper. She is an auto-read author for me and her work has been getting more and more attention over the years. Her first novel was even made into a movie recently starring Eric Bana (no clue when we might be able to see it stateside, but I’ll definitely be doing a re-read once we do have a date).
Title: The Survivors
Author: Jane Harper
Author website: https://janeharper.com.au/
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publish date: February 2, 2021
Kieran and his wife return to their small town after years away to find that life in a small town never really changes much. When they were young a brutal storm moved through that resulted in the death of Kieran’s older brother, the death of his brother’s business partner, and the disappearance of a young girl. Everyone in town thinks that they know what happened that day and that at least part of the blame for the two confirmed deaths that day falls at Kieran’s feet. Kieran and his family have tried to cope with their guilt about everything that happened for years.
When a young woman is found murdered on the beach during their stay, old feelings and suspicions come boiling to the surface. Small towns are excellent for proliferating gossip and holding old grudges. As the investigation stalls and tensions in the town mount, Kieran has to confront his feelings about what happened years ago while also grappling with questions about what is happening in the current day and how his family may or may not be involved.
There are plenty of suspects and even more suspicions in this fourth novel from Jane Harper. Harper gives the traditional mystery a fresh spin with her richly detailed settings and her emotionally complex characters. The character work in this story is excellent, and each character is revealed to have their own secrets and motivations related to past and present day events. Whatever the reader may think about what happened back then, I feel pretty sure that few will be able to guess this ending or the motivations for it.
Why I liked it:
Harper writes mysteries in a way that feels fresh because of her unique settings that still read as something familiar. Yes, it’s set in Australia, but small-town life is inherently a familiar concept and Harper writes those dynamics very well. I also appreciate that each character is developed fully. There are almost no throwaway characters in this story. It is a bit of a slow burn, but the writing is so rich that I truly didn’t mind.
What I would like to change:
The characters that we get to know the least in these stories are the victims, and I would have loved to have gotten a few chapters from their perspectives. While the story was really good on its own, I think I would have enjoyed a deeper insight into those characters because, as it was, our only impressions of them are what other people knew.
Disclaimer: I received my copy early from Book of the Month (a pretty neat and reasonably priced subscription service that lets you pause or skip a month if the books don’t appeal to you.) I also had a digital copy from the publisher via NetGalley which I received with the expectation of an honest review.
My library rating: I’m giving this one 4 glasses of lemonade, primarily because there’s language and a few tough scenes with assault. Overall, this is a highly recommendable book to most groups.
4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads. You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.
My personal preference rating: I gave this title 4.5 stars. It was pretty close to perfect, but I had to deduct a little because I didn’t get an overwhelming feeling to re-read the story as soon as I was done. My absolute favorite mysteries make me want to re-read them right away to try and go back to find the things that I missed the first time around. I didn’t get the feeling that I had missed that much in the first reading, even though I really enjoyed this read.