The Survivors by Jane Harper

‘She could – almost – have been one of The Survivors.’

Kieran Elliott, his partner Mia and their daughter Audrey return to the small Tasmanian coastal town of Evelyn Bay to help Kieran’s mother Verity pack the family home for a move.  Kieran’s father, Brian has dementia and needs nursing home care.

Returning to Evelyn Bay is not easy for Kieran.  His brother Finn and another man died here in a storm twelve years ago.  A girl went missing that same day.  Tough memories for Kieran, especially as some blame him for the men’s deaths.

 A body is discovered on the beach.  The body of a young woman working temporarily in Evelyn Bay.  Who killed her, and why?  Who was the last person to see her alive? This new tragedy brings memories of the old tragedy to the surface.  And Kieran is struggling with his own memories, with the guilt he feels over the death of his brother, and responsibility for his parents’ grief which is reinforced when his father sometimes mistakes him for his brother.

Ms Harper brings the setting to life: the wildness of the Tasmanian coastal weather, the insularity and divided opinion of a small community under stress.  The characters are well-drawn, their grievances and challenges are real. The current investigation raises questions about the old tragedy.  And the conclusion took me by surprise.

This is Ms Harper’s fourth novel: I’ve enjoyed them all, but this is my favourite.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith



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