Title: The Survivors
Author: Jane Harper
Published: September 22nd 2020
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Rating: 4.5 stars
The compelling new novel from Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry.
Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.
The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.
Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.
When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…
‘There’s something wrong out there, you know.’
Sean blinked. ‘Down at the wreck?’
‘No. Out there.’ They all turned to follow Liam’s gaze, out to the Survivors and the cliffs and caves beyond.’
With the movie trailer for Australian crime writer Jane Harper’s debut The Dry currently beaming across our television screens, I thought it was high time that I explored Harper’s latest release. The Survivors is the fourth novel from this decorated author. In this new tale from Jane Harper, we see the action and the central crime base move from the author’s trademark outback locale to the treacherous coast of Tasmania.
In this latest standalone thriller from the bestselling author of The Dry, The Survivors follows Kieran Elliot, a man haunted by past mistakes, old grievances, regret, pain and loss. When Kieran returns with his young family to his old childhood home to take care of his mother, Kieran must confront the past head-on. With the weight of a decade old family tragedy placed upon him, Kiernan must summon all the strength he can to lay the ghosts of the past to rest. However, the discovery of a body on the beach of Kieran’s home town of Evelyn Bay resurrects old secrets, past mysteries and unresolved issues. In this tension filled drama, The Survivors will keep you guessing from page one of this engrossing tale.
Jane Harper is a writer who has been firmly in my sights since I first picked up her debut, The Dry. As soon as I spied the cover and blurb for The Survivors, I was very excited about the prospect of a new crime novel from Jane Harper set in one of my all-time favorite locations, Tasmania. Harper has done to the fictional Tasmania based seaside location of Evelyn Bay proud with her vivid prose. We are swept away to this beautiful but perilous setting thanks to the rich descriptive passages provided by Harper. From the dangerous tides and dark caves, Evelyn Bay was carefully realised. I often felt like an onlooker absorbing everything Evelyn Bay had to offer, thanks to Harper’s immersive prose. Harper also goes that one step further with her vibrant setting, teasing out the seasonal way of living, the tourist influx and the small-town gossip mill than runs through this tight knit community. I think Harper really had her finger on the pulse in regards to the setting element of her new novel.
Harper is a master of characterisation and she applies this natural skill base to The Survivors. Kieran is Harper’s central narrator and I appreciated his journey. I felt as though Harper really allowed the reader to get to know this troubled man. We are privy to Kieran’s tragic past, haunting grievances, cutting regrets, loyal spirit and his determination to set things right. As a lead protagonist, Kieran was compelling and interesting. The reader is also able to readily sympathise with his predicament. The support cast are carefully realised, contributing to the overall story arc and adding plenty of speculation to this unfolding tale.
In terms of the murder mystery, Harper is quite generous in this department, presenting the reader with two mystery cases in the one format to solve. I was immediately drawn in to the present-day case of the young seasonal worker found dead on the beach. I appreciated how Harper was able to slowly build this murder puzzle and tease it out until the very end of the novel. I actually felt completely in the dark in regards to the culprit of this crime, Harper really did pull the wool over my eyes in that respect – but I thank her for this! Harper also cleverly interweaves the past with another crime to solve which was shrouded in overwhelming loss and strong feelings of guilt. I liked the approach that was taken with this area of the novel and the ties made to the ‘survivors’, a pinnacle aspect of this crime composition.
I think I could continue to hark on about The Survivors if given half the chance. I will say that established fans of Jane Harper’s work will find much to appreciate about this new standalone release. Those who are fresh to writing of Harper will find The Survivors a more than compelling read.
The Survivors by Jane Harper was published on 22nd September 2020 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Survivors, Jane Harper, visit here.
*Thanks extended to Pan Macmillan for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Survivors is book #136 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge