Monday, February 01, 2021

The Survivors by Jane Harper

 

First Line: She could-- almost-- have been one of The Survivors.
 
Twelve years ago, teenage Kieran Elliott made a mistake that resulted in the death of his beloved older brother and another young man from their small village on the southern coast of Tasmania. Now he's back with his partner, Mia, and their young daughter, Audrey, to help his mother get ready to move house. Kieran's father's rapidly advancing dementia is too much for her to cope with any longer. But when the body of a young woman is found on the beach, another storm begins to brew on the horizon, a storm of long-buried secrets and questions that were never answered.
 
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The central theme of The Survivors is guilt. Kieran Elliott has been living with it for twelve long years, knowing that his decision to ignore the weather cost the lives of his brother and his brother's best friend, both very popular young men in their small village. No one's come right out and said so, but Kieran knows they all believe he's the one to blame. When a young artist from Canberra is found dead on the beach, the stage is set for readers to find out exactly what happened to her and what happened on that fateful day of the storm. The village was hard hit because not only did two young men die, but a young girl went missing as well, and instead of digging for the truth, it seems they all banded together in silence to ease everyone's pain. Well... that didn't work very well, did it?
 
Jane Harper does some interesting things with this story. It's the first time I remember reading a book that involves a young father who spends a lot of time carrying his baby daughter strapped to his chest while he's conducting an impromptu investigation, and that one detail tells readers a lot about his character.

The Survivors also shows the corrosive power of guilt. Kieran isn't the only one feeling guilt over what happened over a decade ago, and each person has reacted to it in different ways. Although the resolution of the tale took me by surprise, it shouldn't have; Harper planted clues all along the way.

There is a lot to like about The Survivors, and I am a huge Jane Harper fan, but I just couldn't warm up to this book like I did the others. I found it hard to connect to the characters, and the plot didn't engage me until the artist's death made Kieran wonder if there were ties between it and what happened twelve years ago. No, it's not quite up to her others like The Lost Man, but even Hank Aaron didn't hit it out of the park every time he swung the bat. I look forward to her next book with great anticipation.
 
The Survivors by Jane Harper
eISBN: 9781250232410
Flatiron Books © 2021
eBook, 320 pages
 
Standalone Thriller
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley

15 comments:

  1. It sounds like such a very interesting premise, Cathy! And Harper is very good at placing the reader in setting, local culture and so on. The mystery sounds quite good, too. Even though this one didn't draw you in quite like the others have, I'm glad you found things to like about it. Just goes to show you how important it is to connect with the characters.

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    1. Yes, I normally have to connect with at least one character in some way-- even if it's because I can't stand the person.

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  2. I read one other book by Harper, Force of Nature and felt like it was just okay. I feel like she is going down the same path as Ruth Ware. A lot of books being pumped out but the quality suffers in the long run.

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    1. I feel as though Harper has written two stellar novels, and two good novels that would appear to be even better if it weren't for the other two. The Dry and The Lost Man are both outstanding.

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  3. I have this one to read before long and am looking forward to it. I wonder if she'll ever go back to relating stories about Aaron Falk like she did in the first two books. I liked The Lost Man, but I really like Aaron.

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    1. I like Aaron, too, but Harper may have decided that she likes to write standalones more.

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  4. The premise sounds good. I don't know that I have met a father character that looks after his baby either. The setting sounds interesting as well.

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    1. Kieran did an excellent job of sharing child-minding responsibilities with his partner, and I found that to be a refreshing angle from which to view things. Needless to say, it does say a lot about his character as well.

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  5. Well, true, even the great Hank Aaron couldn't hit it out of the park all of the true, but the fabulous baseball player had to put up with so much bigotry. Shocking.
    I'm disappointed that you didn't like this book more, or rather that the book wasn't the usual stellar tome by Jane Harper. I will see when I read it, but Ii am cognizant of your review.

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  6. I have to figure out how to get The Night Hawks right now.

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    1. That's a good one to want to get your hands on.

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  7. Yes, and I want to read The Postscript Murders too, at some point.

    I loved The Dry and The Lost Man, but thought Force of Nature was OK. So some of us agree here. I will read The Survivor.

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