Book Review: The Lost Man

THE LOST MAN | Jane Harper
02.05.2019 | Flatiron Books
Rating: 4/5 stars


We all conceal our feelings at times from those we love the most. When Cameron’s body is found in the middle of the Australian outback with signs that he crawled to the small shade offered by a nearby grave, his family is overwrought with emotions. The death is considered a possible suicide, but is this true?

Cameron was a father, a husband, a brother, but does anyone in his family really know him? Did he have something so burdensome under wraps that would make him want to leave all of this behind? THE LOST MAN follows one family’s tragic loss and the secrets that death can bring to the surface.

People pretend to themselves that they are fine all the time. Every day, and for years on end.

I became a fan of Jane Harper’s writing style when I picked up THE DRY a few years ago. Since then I have seen nothing but non-stop praise for Harper’s storytelling and her follow-up novel, FORCE OF NATURE. While I have yet to pick that one up, largely because of backlist battles and my ridiculous inability to keep up with series reads, I can tell you that I’m a true believer in Harper’s abilities. When I heard Harper was releasing a standalone novel, I knew I wanted to pick up a copy and I’m here to assure you that THE LOST MAN does not disappoint!

Jane Harper has the uncanny ability to bring the Australian outback to life on the pages of her books. The isolated, atmospheric vibe Harper creates in THE LOST MAN is so consuming that it almost becomes its own character. You can feel the strain upon this family of living in a climate like the outback. Several individuals express in various ways how they feel trapped, be it in their homes, their careers, or the town itself. The area is unforgiving and the people who live there are forced to adapt. The pressures this creates can be seen most clearly in the life of Nathan, one of Cameron’s brothers. The story unfolds through Nathan’s eyes, but the impacts of this isolated section of the world are felt throughout the cast of supporting characters.

Life out here is hard. We all try to get through the best way we can. But trust me, there’s not a single person here who isn’t lying to themselves about something.

Nathan’s character becomes the single most important person for the narrator, as he is the one unpacking the events. He is also more than that. He is the one who questions Cameron’s death and whether or not it was the result of a suicide. He wants all of the facts before he comes to any assumptions about his brother. Harper’s choice to tell the story through Nathan affords the reader not only a look into Cameron’s present, but also a look back to when the brother’s were growing up. I don’t think a reader could ask for a more intimate and heartfelt narration than what Harper provides through Nathan.

As someone who reads predominantly within the crime fiction genre, I’m never sure what to expect when an author chooses to head in the family-focused direction. Will this be another domestic thriller? Will it be the story of a husband and wife? THE LOST MAN is neither of those things and Harper succeeds in finding her own niche within this genre. This is the story of a family and the impact one life, as well as ultimately one death, has had on it. The mystery of the death is ever-surrounding and what truly drives the plot, but it is also the reader’s gateway to connecting to this family and their history. More than a few secrets lie here! There is plenty of drama, but nothing is portrayed as cliche or overdone. There are no flashy twists here to take away from the slow-burn revelations that Harper artfully creates. If you’re looking for a novel to transport you to another place and surround you with an atmospheric mystery, then THE LOST MAN is for you!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: Thank you to Flatiron Books for sending me a free copy of this book as an Instagram giveaway win!

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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