The Survivors by Jane Harper

Little, Brown Book Group UK| 1 October 2020| 337 pages| Kindle review copy| 4*

Kieran Elliott has moved back to his home town of Evelyn Bay on the island of Tasmania twelve years after the death of his older brother, Finn. His father has dementia and he has come home to help his mother move house. He feels guilty as Finn died trying to rescue him during a violent storm at sea and he has always thought that his parents blamed him for the loss of their favourite son. On that same day twelve years earlier, a teenage girl went missing. Her bag was later found on the beach, washed up by the tide, but her body was never found. The day after Kieran’s arrival, Bronte, a waitress at the Surf and Turf bar, is found dead on the beach, which stirs up memories of the events of twelve years ago.

I struggled reading the first part of this book. I couldn’t easily make out who was who, especially between the male characters, and I had no idea who or what the ‘Survivors‘ in the title were. There were hints about what had happened twelve years ago, but it wasn’t really compelling me to read on to find out who did what, where and how – until, that is, I’d read about 25% of the book. I was on the point of giving up, when things became clearer, the characters came to life and I realised what was going on – and I just had to read on.

Evelyn Bay is a small community where everyone knows everyone else. There are plenty of rumours flying around, and suspicion falls on several people. Just who and what the ‘Survivors‘ are plays a major role in the story – along with the sea, the caves and the tides. So, this is a slow-burner at first, that turns into an emotionally charged book rather than one of high tension and suspense. I enjoyed it, but not as much as Jane Harper’s earlier books, The Dry, Force of Nature or The Lost Man, which all had me enthralled.

My thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for my review copy.

4 thoughts on “The Survivors by Jane Harper

  1. I think Harper’s work has a solid sense of place, Margaret, and it seems that came through here, as well. I know what you mean, though, about keeping the characters straight, etc.. Still, I’m glad you found things to like here.

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  2. I’m glad to hear about this new Harper book as well. I’m planning on reading it when it comes out here next year.

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  3. I have read The Dry and Force of Nature by Harper and loved them. Will try this anyway. I like her way of writing, deepening the plot as the story evolves. Still to read The Lost Man, so might try that one first.

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