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The Lost Man

The Lost Man

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The Lost Man

valoraciones:
4.5/5 (59 valoraciones)
Longitud:
406 página
7 horas
Publicado:
Feb 5, 2019
ISBN:
9781250105691
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Two brothers meet in the remote Australian outback when the third brother is found dead, in this stunning new standalone novel from Jane Harper


Brothers Nathan and Bub Bright meet for the first time in months at the remote fence line separating their cattle ranches in the lonely outback.

Their third brother, Cameron, lies dead at their feet.

In an isolated belt of Australia, their homes a three-hour drive apart, the brothers were one another’s nearest neighbors. Cameron was the middle child, the one who ran the family homestead. But something made him head out alone under the unrelenting sun.

Nathan, Bub and Nathan’s son return to Cameron’s ranch and to those left behind by his passing: his wife, his daughters, and his mother, as well as their long-time employee and two recently hired seasonal workers.

While they grieve Cameron’s loss, suspicion starts to take hold, and Nathan is forced to examine secrets the family would rather leave in the past. Because if someone forced Cameron to his death, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects.

A powerful and brutal story of suspense set against a formidable landscape, The Lost Man confirms Jane Harper, author of The Dry and Force of Nature, is one of the best new voices in writing today.

Publicado:
Feb 5, 2019
ISBN:
9781250105691
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Jane Harper is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, Force of Nature, and The Lost Man. Jane previously worked as a print journalist in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne with her husband, daughter, and son.

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The Lost Man - Jane Harper

PROLOGUE

From above, from a distance, the marks in the dust formed a tight circle. The circle was far from perfect, with a distorted edge that grew thick, then thin, and broke completely in places. It also wasn’t empty.

In the center was a headstone, blasted smooth by a hundred-year assault from sand, wind, and sun. The headstone stood a meter tall and was still perfectly straight. It faced west, toward the desert, which was unusual out there. West was rarely anyone’s first choice.

The name of the man buried beneath had long since vanished, and the landmark was known to locals—all sixty-five of them, plus one hundred thousand head of cattle—simply as the stockman’s grave. That piece of land had never been a cemetery; the stockman had been put into the ground where he had died, and in more than a century, no one had joined him.

If a visitor were to run their hands over the worn stone, a partial date could be detected in the indentations. A one and an eight and a nine, maybe—1890-something. Only three words were still visible. They had been carved lower down, where they had better shelter from the elements.

Or perhaps they had been chiseled more deeply to start with, the message deemed more important than the man. They read:

who went astray

Months, up to a year, even, could slip away without a single visitor passing by, let alone stopping to read the faded inscription or squint west into the afternoon sun. Even the cattle didn’t linger. The ground was typically sandy and sparse for eleven months of the year and hidden under murky floodwater for the rest. The cows preferred to wander north, where the pickings were better and the trees offered shade.

So the grave stood mostly alone, next to a thin, three-wire cattle fence. The fence stretched a dozen kilometers east to a road and a few hundred west to the desert, where the horizon was so flat it seemed possible to detect the curvature of the earth. It was a land of mirages, where the few tiny trees in the far distance shimmered and floated on non-existent lakes.

There was a single homestead somewhere to the north of the fence, and another to the south. Next-door neighbors, three hours apart. The road to the east was invisible from the grave itself. And road was a generous description. The wide dirt track could sit silent for days without being troubled by a vehicle.

The track eventually led to the town of Balamara—a single street, really—which catered loosely for a scattered population that could almost fit into one large room when gathered together. Fifteen hundred kilometers further east lay Brisbane and the coast.

At scheduled times during the year, the sky above the stockman’s grave would vibrate with the roar of a helicopter. The pilots worked the land from the air, using noise and movement to herd cattle over distances the size of small European countries. For now, though, the sky loomed empty and large.

Later—too late—a helicopter would fly over, deliberately low and slow. The pilot would spot the car first, with its hot metal winking. The grave, some distance away, would draw his attention only by chance as he circled around and back in search of a suitable landing site.

The pilot would not see the dust circle. It was the flash of blue material against the red ground that would catch his eye. A work shirt, unbuttoned and partially removed. The temperature the past few days had hit forty-five degrees at the afternoon peak. The exposed skin was sun-cracked.

Later, those on the ground would see the thick and thin marks in the dust and would fix their eyes on the distant horizon, trying not to think about how they had been made.

The headstone threw a small shadow. It was the only shade in sight and its blackness was slippery, swelling and shrinking as it ticked around like a sundial. The man had crawled, then dragged himself as it moved. He had squeezed into that shade, contorting his body into desperate shapes, kicking and scuffing the ground as fear and thirst took hold.

He had a brief respite as night fell, before the sun rose and the terrible rotation started again. It didn’t last as long on the second day, as the sun moved higher in the sky. The man had tried, though. He had chased the shade until he couldn’t anymore.

The circle in the dust fell just short of one full revolution. Just short of twenty-four hours. And then, at last, the stockman finally had company, as the earth turned and the shadow moved on alone, and the man lay still in the center of a dusty grave under a monstrous sky.

1

Nathan Bright could see nothing, and then everything all at once.

He had crested the rise, gripping the steering wheel as the off-road terrain tried to snatch control from his hands, and suddenly it was all there in front of him. Visible, but still miles away, giving him too many minutes to absorb the scene as it loomed larger. He glanced over at the passenger seat.

Don’t look, he was tempted to say, but didn’t bother. There was no point. The sight dragged the gaze.

Still, he stopped the car farther from the fence than he needed to. He pulled on the handbrake, leaving the engine and the air conditioner running. Both protested the Queensland December heat with discordant squeals.

Stay in the car, he said.

But—

Nathan slammed the door before he heard the rest. He walked to the fence line, pulled the top wires apart, and climbed through from his side to his brothers’.

A four-wheel drive was parked near the stockman’s grave, its own engine still running and its air conditioner also spinning full pelt, no doubt. Nathan cleared the fence as the driver’s door opened and his youngest brother stepped out.

G’day, Bub called, when Nathan was close enough to hear.

G’day.

They met by the headstone. Nathan knew he would have to look down at some point. He delayed the moment by opening his mouth.

When did you— He heard movement behind him and pointed. Oi! Stay in the bloody car! He had to shout to cover the distance, and it came out more harshly than he’d intended. He tried again. Stay in the car.

Not much better, but at least his son listened.

I forgot you had Xander with you, Bub said.

Yeah. Nathan waited until the car door clicked shut. He could see Xander’s outline through the windshield, at sixteen more man than boy these days. He turned back to his brother. The one standing in front of him, at least. Their third sibling, middle-born Cameron Bright, lay at their feet at the base of the headstone. He had been covered, thank God, by a faded tarp.

Nathan tried again. How long have you been here?

Bub thought for a moment, the way he often did before answering. His eyes were slightly hooded under the brim of his hat, and his words fell a fraction of a beat slower than average speaking pace. Since last night, just before dark.

Uncle Harry’s not coming?

Another beat, then a shake of the head.

Where is he? Back home with Mum?

And Ilse and the girls, Bub said. He offered, but I said you were on your way.

Probably better someone’s with Mum. You have any trouble? Nathan finally looked at the bundle at his feet. Something like that would draw out the scavengers.

You mean dingoes?

Yeah, mate. Of course. What else? There wasn’t a huge amount of choice out there.

Had to take a couple of shots. Bub scratched his collarbone, and Nathan could see the edge of the western star of his Southern Cross tattoo. But it was okay.

Good. All right. Nathan recognized the familiar frustration that came with talking to Bub. He wished Cameron were there to smooth the waters, and felt a sudden sharp jab of realization under his ribs. He made himself take a deep breath, the air hot in his throat and lungs. This was difficult for everyone.

Bub’s eyes were red, and his face unshaven and heavy with shock, as was Nathan’s own, he imagined. They looked a bit, but not a lot, alike. The sibling relationship was clearer with Cameron in the middle, bridging the gap in more ways than one. Bub looked tired and, as always these days, older than Nathan remembered. With twelve years between them, Nathan still found himself faintly surprised to see his brother edging into his thirties, rather than still in nappies.

Nathan crouched beside the tarp. It was weather-bleached and had been tucked tight in places, like a bedsheet.

Have you looked?

No. I was told not to touch anything.

Nathan instantly disbelieved him. It was his tone, or perhaps the way the sheet lay at the top end. Sure enough, as he reached out, Bub made a noise in his throat.

Don’t, Nate. It’s not good.

Bub had never been good at lying. Nathan withdrew his hand and stood. What happened to him?

I don’t know. Just what was said on the radio.

Yeah, I missed a lot of it. Nathan didn’t quite meet Bub’s eye.

Bub shifted. Thought you promised Mum you’d keep it on, mate.

Nathan didn’t reply, and Bub didn’t push it. Nathan looked back across the fence to his own land. He could see Xander, restless, in the passenger seat. They’d spent the past week moving along the southern boundary, working by day, camping by night. They had been on the brink of downing tools the previous evening when the air around had vibrated as a helicopter swooped overhead. A black bird against the indigo death throes of the day.

Why is he flying so late? Xander had said, squinting upward. Nathan hadn’t answered. Night flying. A dangerous choice and an ominous sign. Something was wrong. They’d turned on the radio, but by then it was already too late.

Nathan looked now at Bub. Look, I heard enough. Doesn’t mean I understand it.

Bub’s unshaven jaw twitched. Join the club. I don’t know what happened, mate, he said again.

That’s okay, tell me what you do know.

Nathan tried to tone down his impatience. He’d spoken to Bub on the radio briefly the previous evening, as dark fell, to say he would drive over at first light. He’d had a hundred more questions, but hadn’t asked any of them. Not on an open frequency, where anyone who wanted to listen could tune in.

When did Cam head out from home? Nathan prompted when Bub seemed at a loss as to where to start.

Morning the day before yesterday, Harry said. Around eight.

So, Wednesday.

Yeah, I guess. But I didn’t see him ’cause I’d headed out myself on Tuesday.

Where to?

Check a couple of those water bores way up in the north paddock. Plan was for me to camp up there, then drive over to Lehmann’s Hill on Wednesday and meet Cam.

What for?

Fix the repeater mast.

Well, so Cam could fix it, Nathan thought. Bub would mostly have been there to pass the spanner. And for safety in numbers. Lehmann’s Hill was on the western edge of the property, a four-hour drive from home. If the repeater mast was out in that area, so was long-range radio contact.

What went wrong? Nathan said.

Bub was staring at the tarp. I got there late. We were supposed to meet at around one but I got stuck on the way. Didn’t get to Lehmann’s until a couple of hours later.

Nathan waited.

Cam wasn’t there, Bub went on. Wondered if he’d been and gone, but the mast was still out, so I thought probably not. Tried the radio, but he never came into range. So I waited a bit, then headed towards the track. Thinking I’d run into him.

But you didn’t.

Nup. I kept trying the radio, but no sign of him. Bub frowned. Drove for about an hour, but I still hadn’t made the track, so I had to stop. Getting dark, you know?

Under the brim of his hat, his eyes looked for reassurance, and Nathan nodded.

Not much else you could do. It was true. The night was a perfect shroud of black out at Lehmann’s Hill. Driving in the dark, it was only a question of whether the car would crash into a rock or a cow or roll off the road. And then Nathan would have had two brothers covered by tarp.

But you were getting worried? Nathan said, although he could guess the answer.

Bub shrugged. Yeah and no. You know how it is.

Yeah. Nathan did. They lived in a land of extremes in more ways than one. People were either completely fine, or very not. There was little middle ground. And Cam wasn’t some tourist. He knew how to handle himself, and that meant he could well have been half an hour up the road, slowed down by the dark and out of range, but snug in his swag, with a cool beer from the fridge in his boot. Or he might not.

No one was picking up the radio, Bub was saying. No one’s ever bloody up there this time of year, and with the tower out— He gave a grunt of frustration.

So what did you do?

Started driving in at dawn, but it still took ages before anyone picked up.

How long?

I dunno. Bub hesitated. Probably a half hour to get to the track, then another hour after that. Even then, it was only a couple of those idiot jackaroos over at Atherton. Took them bloody ages to get hold of the manager.

They always hire dickheads at Atherton, Nathan said, thinking of the neighboring property to the northeast. It sprawled over an area the size of Sydney. It was, as he’d said, staffed by dickheads, but was still the best chance around there of connecting with anyone. So they raised the alarm?

Yeah, but by then… Bub stopped.

By then, no one had seen or heard from their brother for about twenty-four hours, Nathan calculated. The search was well into the urgent phase before it had even started. As per protocol, every surrounding property would be informed, and it was all hands on deck, for what it was worth. Over those distances, hands were few and far between, and it could take a long time to reach the deck.

The pilot spotted him?

Yeah, Bub said. Eventually.

Anyone you know?

Nah, contractor based down near Adelaide. Been working on Atherton for the season. Some cop got him on the flight comms, told him to do a flyover and check the roads.

Glenn?

No. Someone else. From police dispatch or something.

Right, Nathan said. It was lucky the pilot had seen Cameron at all. The stockman’s grave was two hundred kilometers from Lehmann’s Hill and the main search area. When did he call it in?

Mid-afternoon, so most people hadn’t even made it to Lehmann’s by then. It was pretty much only me and Harry out there still, but I was about an hour closer, so I said I’d drive over.

And Cam was definitely dead?

That’s what the pilot said. Had been for a few hours, by the sound of it. Cop still got on the radio and made him do all these checks. Bub grimaced. I got here near sunset. The bloke had covered Cam over like he was told to, but he was pretty keen to get going. Didn’t want to lose the light and get stuck here.

Fair enough, Nathan thought. He wouldn’t have wanted to stay either. He felt bad that the task had fallen to Bub.

If Cam was supposed to be meeting you at Lehmann’s Hill, what was he doing out here? He ran a hand over the smooth top of the gravestone.

Don’t know. Harry said he’d written in the planner that he was heading out to Lehmann’s.

Nothing else?

Not that Harry said.

Nathan thought about that planner. He knew where it was kept, next to the phone, inside the back door of the house that had once been their dad’s and had then become Cameron’s. Nathan had written in it himself plenty of times growing up. He’d also not written in it plenty of times, when he’d forgotten or couldn’t be bothered, or didn’t want anyone to know where he was going, or couldn’t find a pen.

He could feel the heat bearing down on his neck, and he looked at his watch. The digital numbers were covered in fine red dust, and he wiped his thumb across them.

What time are they due? They meaning police and medical. They also meaning two people. One of each. Not a team, not out there.

Not sure. They’re on their way.

That didn’t mean it would be soon, though. Nathan looked down at the tarp again. The marks in the dust.

Did he look injured?

Don’t think so. Not that I could see. Just hot and thirsty. Bub’s face was tilted down as he touched the edge of the dust circle with the toe of his boot. Neither brother mentioned it. They both knew what it meant. They had seen similar patterns made by dying animals. A thought struck Nathan, and he looked around.

Where’s all his stuff?

His hat’s under the tarp. He didn’t have anything else.

What, nothing?

Pilot said not. He was told to check, take some pics. Reckoned he couldn’t see anything else.

But— Nathan scanned the ground again. "Not anything? Not even an empty water bottle?"

Don’t think so.

Did you have a proper look?

You can see for yourself, mate. You’ve got eyes.

But—

I don’t know, all right? I don’t have any answers. Stop asking me.

Yeah, okay. Nathan took a deep breath. But I thought the pilot found the car?

He did.

So where is it? He didn’t bother to hide his frustration now. Get more sense from the cows than from bloody Bub, as their dad used to say.

Near the road.

Nathan stared at him. Which road?

How many roads are there? Our one. This side of the boundary, a bit north of your cattle grid. Jesus, this was all on the radio, mate.

It can’t be. That’s ten kilometers away.

Eight, I reckon, but yeah.

There was a long silence. The sun was high, and the slice of shade thrown by the headstone had shrunk to almost nothing.

So Cam left his car? Beneath Nathan’s feet, the earth tilted very slightly on its axis. He saw the look on his younger brother’s face and shook his head. Sorry, I know you don’t know, it’s just—

He looked past his brother, to where the horizon lay long and still. The only movement he could see was Bub’s chest, expanding in and out as he breathed.

Have you been out to the car? Nathan said, finally.

No.

Telling the truth this time, Nathan thought. He glanced over his shoulder. Xander was a dark shape hunched forward in his seat.

Let’s go.

2

It was nine kilometers in the end.

Nathan’s own four-wheel drive was on the wrong side of the fence, so he’d climbed back through the wire and pulled open the passenger door. Xander had looked up, questions already forming on his lips. Nathan held up a hand.

I’ll tell you later. Come on. We’re going to find Uncle Cam’s car.

Find it? Where is it? Xander frowned. His private-school haircut was looking a little shaggy around the edges after the past week, and the stubble on his chin made him look older.

Somewhere near the road. Bub’s driving.

"Sorry, all the way out at your road?"

Yeah, apparently.

But—? What?

I don’t know, mate. We’ll see.

Xander opened his mouth, then shut it again, and climbed out of the four-wheel drive without further comment. The kid followed him through the fence, glancing once at the tarp and giving the grave a respectfully wide berth as he walked to Bub’s car.

Hi, Bub.

G’day, little mate. Not so little now, hey?

No, I suppose not.

How’s Brisbane?

Nathan saw his son pause. Better than here, was clearly the answer.

It’s fine, thank you, he settled for instead. I’m sorry about Cameron.

Yeah, well, not your fault, mate. Bub opened his car door. Jump in.

Xander’s eyes were on the grave. Do we just—?

What? Bub was already behind the wheel.

Leave him here like this?

They said not to touch it.

Xander looked appalled. I wasn’t going to touch it. Him. I was just wondering if one of us should— He faltered under Bub’s blank gaze. Never mind.

Nathan could see Xander’s city softness exposed like a layer of new skin. His edges had been gently rounded by nuanced debate and foreign coffee and morning news. They had not been chipped away and sanded down to a hard callus. Xander thought before he spoke, and he weighed up the consequences of his actions before he did anything. Mostly, Nathan thought, that was no bad thing. But it depended where you were. Nathan opened the car door.

I think we’ll be right, mate. He climbed in. Let’s get going.

Xander didn’t look convinced, but got in the back without argument. Inside, the car was cool and dark. The radio lay silent in its cradle.

Nathan looked over at his brother. You going to follow the fence line?

Yeah, reckon that’d be quickest. Bub squinted in the rearview mirror at Xander. Hold on back there. I’ll do my best but it’s looking pretty bumpy.

Okay.

They drove without speaking as Bub focused on the ground in front of his wheels, wrestling control back from dips and hidden soft earth. The grave quickly disappeared in the rear window as they went over a rise, and Nathan saw Xander’s grip tighten on the back seat. Nathan turned to stare out at the fence line separating his property from his brothers’. The wire vanished into the distance in both directions. He could see no end. As they passed a section where the fence posts looked loose, Nathan made a mental note to mention it to Cam. He caught himself. Another sharp jolt of realization.

Bub started to slow as they reached the edge of Cameron’s land. The main road up ahead was hidden by a natural rise that ran along the eastern border of both Cameron’s and Nathan’s properties. On Nathan’s side, it was mostly a dirt dune; on Cameron’s, there was a rocky outcrop that had managed to weather a few thousand years. In the sunset, it glowed red, as though lit from within. At that moment, it was a dull brown.

Where’s the car? Nathan said.

Bub had come almost to a halt and was peering through the windscreen. Xander twisted around, looking back the way they had come.

Nothing out this side. Nathan squinted through the dusty glass. What exactly did the pilot say?

He was going off the GPS, so— Bub shrugged. Not much help there. But he said somewhere on the rocks, north of the grid. Bub changed gears. I’ll drive onto the road. See what we can see.

Bub kept close to the fence line, following the thin, unofficial track that linked paddock to road. He cut through a gap in the rocks and, with a jolt and a squeal from the engine, they found themselves on the other side of the outcrop. The unsealed road was deserted.

So, north, you reckon? Nathan said, and Bub nodded. The wheels whipped up a cloud of dust, and Nathan could hear the ping of stones chipping off the bodywork as they picked up speed. The road lay ahead like a dirty ribbon as the rock face loomed along their left side. In a few hours, it would block out the westerly sun.

They drove for a minute, then Bub slowed in front of an almost invisible break in the outcrop. There were no signposts. The few locals knew most of the off-road tracks, and the occasional tourist was not encouraged to explore them. Bub turned the car into the gap between the high rocks and through to the paddock on the other side. From this vantage point, the outcrop was a gentle slope leading to the highest point before dropping sharply to the road.

Bub stopped, the engine still running, and Nathan opened his door and stepped out. The wind had picked up, and he felt the grit cling to his skin and eyelashes. He turned in a slow, full circle. He could see rock, and the fence, now small in the distance. And the horizon. Nothing else. He got back in.

Try further up.

They rejoined the road and, a few moments later, Bub pulled in again through a different gap. They repeated the procedure. Stop, circle. Nothing but more of the same. Nathan was losing hope and had opened the passenger door to climb back in when he heard a soft tapping on the window. Xander was pointing and saying something.

What’s that? Nathan leaned in.

Over there. Xander was pointing up the slope, back toward the road. In the light.

Nathan could make out nothing as he squinted against the sun. He bent down, aligning his view with his son’s. He followed his line of sight until, at last, he could see. On a distant outcrop, on its rocky peak, there was the dull glint of dirty metal.


The driver’s door stood open. Not thrown wide, and not just a crack. Partway ajar, the perfect distance for a man to simply step out.

After Xander had spotted the faraway sheen of the car, Bub had rejoined the road and driven them up to the next hidden track. He’d pulled in once again and this time the Land Cruiser was impossible to miss. It was parked on the flat peak of the rocky slope, its nose facing the sheer drop to the road.

By unspoken agreement, Bub parked at the bottom, and they walked up. At the top, the three of them stood beside Cameron’s car as the air current snatched at their clothes.

Nathan walked around the four-wheel drive and, for the second time that day, felt something shift and tilt off-center. The exterior was completely unremarkable. It was dirty and stone-chipped, but he could see nothing wrong with it. He felt an unpleasant, cool prickle at the base of his neck.

Nothing was wrong, and that in itself felt very wrong indeed. Nathan had expected, he realized, at the very least to find the car bogged, or rolled, or smashed into a rock, or crumpled into a jagged metal ball. He had expected hissing steam or leaking oil or flames, or for the hood to be propped open, or all four tires to be deflated rubber sacks. Nathan wasn’t sure what, but he had expected something. Something more than this, at least. Something like an explanation.

He crouched and checked the wheels. Four good tires stood firm on solid rock. He opened the hood and ran his hands over the key components. Nothing out of place, as far as he could see. Through the window, the gauges on the dashboard indicated both fuel tanks—primary and reserve—were full or close to. Nathan heard a sound and looked up to see Bub opening the rear doors of the Land Cruiser. He and Xander were both staring into the large haulage area with strange expressions on their faces. Nathan walked around and joined them.

The vehicle was fully stocked. Liters of fresh water sloshed gently in sealed bottles next to cans filled with tuna and beans. A good collection. Enough to keep a man alive for a week or more. Nathan used one finger to open the mini fridge that could be hooked up to the car’s power. More filled water bottles were stacked inside, along with wrapped sandwiches now curling at the edges, and a six-pack of mid-strength beer. There was other stuff, too. Extra fuel in a jerry can, two spare tires strapped down, a shovel, a first aid kit. In short: the usual. Nathan knew he could have opened his own vehicle and found exactly the same. Bub’s, too, he guessed. A basic survival kit for life in the harshest climate in Australia. Don’t leave home without it.

His keys are here.

Xander was peering into the open driver’s door, and Nathan joined him. Side by side, their shoulders were the same height now, he noticed

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  • (5/5)
    It’s very rare to find a novel in which, just the reading thereof is engrossing. Jane Harper has a tremendous talent for bring the reader into her characters. I probably read this at 25 percent of my normal reading speed. That’s not due to the density of the content, but rather the enjoyment.

    This is good story, but I think Jane Harper to write about watching ice melt and make it worth reading about it.
  • (5/5)
    Here really is an Australian author to keep your eye on.In this novel she has captured so well the harshness of the Australian outback. The challenges of life on an outback station. The way that in a small community where everyone knows everything, some small incident, that might get lost in the city, damages reputations and blights life for decades. The way that genetics and the harsh environment create character traits that are passed on from one generation to another.It is a book with lots of little mysteries, because in this fractured family no-one really says what they think, because they are afraid. Why is Nathan Bright living in isolation on a small hopeless holding which is never going to amount to anything? Why hasn't he spoken to his younger brothers for over six months? Did someone kill Cameron or did he die of natural causes? Why is his car 9 km away from his body?This is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed.It is a stand-alone so you don't have to read her earlier books, but I guarantee you will look for them
  • (4/5)
    This is the best one so far for me - great characters and description of outback life. Ending a wee bit unbelievable - wrapped up the story but not really likely I think - but otherwise great.
  • (5/5)
    Nathan and Bub meet for the first time in months as there other brother Cameron has been found dead, in the middle of nowhere in the Australian outback. What made Cameron drive to the remote spot with no provisions to die, Nathan is about to find out.This is the third book by author Jane Harper and I have really enjoyed this one as much as the other two. This one is a stand alone and does not feature Aaron Faulk like the prevoius two books.The story follows Nathan and how he uncovers slowly things about his brother and the circumstances surrounding his death. This had my interest from start to finish and I found myself ploughing through the book vety quickly. At no point did I get bored with the story.I have never been to Australia but what the author does is describe the setting well. With the red dust, scorching heat and barren landscapes I really did get a good sense of place.This book is really enjoyable and I am sorry to leave behind Nathan and his family. I highly recommend this book and the prevoius books by this author.
  • (5/5)
    The Bright brothers are overseers of a vast amount of land in the Outback in Queensboro. The land is extremely hot, unforgiving and dangerous and no one leaves home without a large amount of supplies. When one of the Bright brothers, Cameron, doesn’t come home one day after supposedly going out for a repeater mast repair, an alert is put out. He’s found dead at the foot of the stockman’s grave, which is a great source of legend in the area. Cam’s brothers, Nathan and Bub, cannot understand why Cam would have left his car, which was fully stocked with emergency supplies, to walk 5.5 miles, which he knew would be a death warrant. Cam has left behind their mother, Liz, his wife, Ilse, and two young daughters, all of who are devastated and confused. This has all happened right before Christmas. While the police and others believe this to be a suicide, doubts and suspicion abound among family members and threaten to tear them all apart.I was completely glued to the pages of this book. It’s a fascinating tale and the author is an expert at making her characters come alive. Not only that, but what a forbidding area this took place in, one where your life depended on having enough water and air conditioning to survive. It’s a land that could be hated but also loved for its stunning beauty. The author has created a dark, suspenseful atmosphere that is completely riveting. This is a slow burning, heart breaking book that blew me away. It’s not only the mystery of Cam’s death that was fascinating but also the relationship of Nathan and his teenage son Xander and Nathan’s complicated history with Cam’s widow, Ilse. And then there’s their mother, Liz, who loves them all so dearly.A deeply satisfying, gripping tale that I most highly recommend.This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.
  • (5/5)
    As good as Harper's two Aaron Falk mysteries are-- and they are-- The Lost Man blew me away. There are two main characters in this book: Nathan Bright and the Australian outback, and I don't know which one I enjoyed more. I felt the grit of the red dust between my teeth and the sun leeching all the moisture from my body as I read. Distances are almost at the edge of incredulity in this place. The nearest large city is over 900 miles away. The two brothers, Nathan and Cameron, have adjoining cattle ranches, and it's a three-hour drive between their houses. Schooling is done online via a slow internet connection. Every white person has skin cancer to some degree. Detail by detail woven seamlessly into the narrative, the outback looms large.But so does Nathan Bright because we see the story through his eyes. Nathan lives "beyond the Pale," having committed an error for which no one living in that harsh environment will forgive him. Divorced, the one good thing in his life is his son, Xander, who lives in Brisbane with his mother. When something doesn't make sense to Nathan, he can't leave it alone. And his brother, dying of exposure when his truck was in perfect working order and filled with water and food, well-- that just doesn't make sense.We get to know the other members of the Bright family as Nathan works to answer his questions, and we learn that they are all damaged in some way. The power of Harper's storytelling meant that I was pulled along like a leaf caught in the current of a river, enjoying the words and the spell they wove too much to try to do any detective work of my own. Love and hate predominate not only the outback itself but the relationships between the members of this family. A nanosecond before the reveal occurred, everything fell into place for me: each character's behavior, the tiniest of clues planted throughout the narrative, and I was left a bit stunned. And I was also left wondering, out of all the men in this book, which one was truly The Lost Man? It's a question I'm still pondering.This is powerful storytelling that should not be missed.
  • (4/5)
    This was a fascinating portrait of Australian ranchers. A different world. There's not a lot of plot or mystery, but it is still a page turner.
  • (5/5)
    Two brothers drive out to the fence line separating their cattle ranches in the remote Australian outback. The third brother lies dead at their feet. So begins The Lost Man, the latest thriller from Jane Harper. The unforgiving Australian heat will kill a person in hours so everyone knows to always be prepared; keep water and supplies in your vehicle, and stay with your vehicle if something goes wrong. So how and why did Cameron Bright wind up alone and dead lying next to the infamous Stockman’s grave, miles away from his truck? Nathan returns with his brother Bub to the ranch and a family he has been growing apart from. The ranch is home to family, an old ranch hand who has been around since the beginning, and some seasonal help. The grief has scraped everyone raw, but Nathan begins to wonder if someone there pushed Cam to this fate?Jane Harper paints a picture of the scorching Australian landscape that seeps into your skin. She populates it with complex characters that will both shock you and make you despair for them. She holds your attention with every page, every sentence, every word. She draws you in tight with the opening and the discovery of the body at the Stockman’s grave. Then she slowly pulls back revealing more and more of the country, the lives of the people who live there, and the situation that has led them to this point. Gradually peeling back the layers of the characters that will have you guessing and changing your mind all the way to the end. Harper is at the forefront of a new wave of thriller writers coming out of Australia and she is at the top of my must-read list period. She describes an Australia that I’m not sure an actual visit could impress on me any better. The characters are complicated and tragic, the plot a slow steady burn that doesn’t let you up for air until it reaches its final, devasting conclusion. The Lost Man is destined for bestseller status, another slew of awards, and is likely to be on top of my list of best books of 2019. Highly recommended.I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher.
  • (4/5)
    Jane Harper has a honed talent for absorbing her readers in a setting and immersing them into the lives and minds of her characters. In her latest book, The Lost Man, Harper maroons her audience in a desolate landscape in Western Australia. Her protagonist is a deeply saddened cattle rancher who has been ostracized for a former transgression by the small community that populates the lonely expanse. Nathan Bright is first introduced at the site of his brother’s recent death near an isolated gravestone. Given the area’s harsh climate, he died excruciatingly of exposure without benefit of shade and supplies. Accompanied by his other brother and visiting son, Nathan is left to wonder why his brother would have fallen victim to those elements that they were acutely aware of and had adapted to throughout their lives. As the novel progresses, it is revealed that Nathan is somewhat estranged from his family, divorced and teetering on the edge of a deep depression. When he reluctantly gathers with his family during their mourning, he recalls missed opportunities for a different life. He regrets having squandered a chance to win over the woman who became his deceased brother’s wife. There are flashbacks to his childhood with an abusive father and the resulting necessity for the three brothers to choose between self-preservation and protecting each other. Unconvinced that his brother had committed suicide, Nathan begins digging into his past and discovers layers of secrets and lies that permeate the entire family. The Lost Man presents an intriguing mystery and character study with a tone that expertly evokes the dread and unease of its unforgiving setting. Fans of The Dry and Force of Nature will be delighted with Harper’s new standalone novel that further proves her prowess as an innovative and versatile author.
  • (4/5)
    This is part of my "Read something else" series, where I "force" myself to read something out of my usual repertoire of sci-fi/fantasy/adventures. I picked this one after reading about it in Bookmarks magazine.The outback, Australia, Three brothers, all "veterans" of working in the Outback, one of them found dead in an impossible way. This is the story of a broken family and this mystery.First, the good: The story is very well written, the text flow easily and the author doesn't lose itself in countless description(a pet peeve of mine, I can't stand minutious description of scenes anymore.) The characters are all believable, and have wildly different persona. Lastly, I never thought I would enjoy so much reading about the Australia outback the impact it has on it's inhabitant. The novel is full of informative facts about living there and I was half-tempted to become a backpackers after finishing it! The author is giving us a grand picture of the life of workers there and I never thought it would be my favourite part of the book.The so-so: That family, and it's habit of never finishing their thoughts or conversations, really start getting on your nerves mid-story. The bad: Not a true negative, but once I finished the story, I couldn't get rid of the feeling that I "knew" this story already. Plot wise, there was nothing really new in it, it really felt like I had seen/read many variants of this story over the years. You know, like you watch a movie about a kid and a dog, and it reminds you of 10 others movies you saw in your youth about a kid and his dog... Well, that's the same feeling I had here. That said, the true star of this book was the setting, the Australian outback, and that was nailed perfectly and made this a worthwhile read for me.
  • (4/5)
    The brutally hot and isolated Australian outback is the murder weapon in this suspenseful tale. Brothers Nathan and Bub Bright meet for the first time in months at the site where their brother Cameron has died. Cameron's car is miles away, and the mystery is what caused him to set out alone, without supplies, to his certain death? Suicide in this manner is not unknown. But Nathan is suspicious and begins to investigate the motives of the few left behind. Jane Harper's suspense novels are well written; this is her third, and I cannot recommend her enough.
  • (3/5)
    The story begins with two brothers, Nathan and Bub, looking down at the body of a third brother Cameron. Life in the Australian outback is harsh to the point of being deadly, but Cam’s death made no sense. His car, fully functional and loaded with supplies, was within walking distance of where he was found. They could not understand why he left it and died in the heat. Then for many, many pages, we learn about this family, parents, spouses, and children, even going back a generation, in a series of flashbacks and remembrances. Finally, within pages of the end, we learn how and why Cameron died. The characters are interesting, and this is most definitely a character-driven story, but so little happens in the way of a “real” plot, it is almost boring in places.
  • (3/5)
    A slow slog, then a strange and sudden wrap-up.
  • (5/5)
    Two brothers meet under a scorching summer sky. At their feet lies the body of their brother Cam. How did an experienced stockman end up here, alone, dying of exposure and dehydration? His car discovered 10 km away. So begins this enthralling mystery by Jane Harper. "From above, from a distance, the marks in the dust formed a tight circle. The circle was far from perfect, with a distorted edge that grew thick, then thin, and broke completely in places. It also wasn’t empty.In the center was a headstone, blasted smooth by a hundred-year assault from sand, wind, and sun. The headstone stood a meter tall and was still perfectly straight. It faced west, toward the desert, which was unusual out there. West was rarely anyone’s first choice.The headstone threw a small shadow. It was the only shade in sight and its blackness was slippery, swelling and shrinking as it ticked around like a sundial. The man had crawled, then dragged himself as it moved. He had squeezed into that shade, contorting his body into desperate shapes, kicking and scuffing the ground as fear and thirst took hold.The circle in the dust fell just short of one full revolution. Just short of twenty-four hours. And then, at last, the stockman finally had company, as the earth turned and the shadow moved on alone, and the man lay still in the center of a dusty grave under a monstrous sky."Every family has their secrets. This family is no different. Little by little the civilised veneer of the Bright family is peeled apart. The family run a cattle property in central Queensland, Three and a half thousand square kilometers, with about three thousand Herefords. Fifteen hundred kilometers to the east lay Brisbane, the state capital, situated near the coast.The story is told from the POV of Nathan, the older brother. Nathan is a bundle of issues, working a marginal smaller property adjacent to the family station. A messy divorce, custody issues, banned from town for the last nine years, he is not in an ideal position to work out what happened. To complicate matters, Nathan's teenage son Xander is also there, visiting for the Christmas break. Harper's skill is in rendering the characters and their environment so vividly that you can feel the 45°C heat, feel the gritty red dust. Through Nathan's interactions we have a definite idea of the personalities and traits of each of the characters. There is a risk in putting all the action and observation through the eyes of one central character. What Nathan doesn't see or hear has to be covered in some other way or we become constrained by his observations.Despite this, it works. Little by little Nathan puts the little clues together. Secrets are exposed, lives are changed irrevocably.I thoroughly recommend this book. It's a crime novel, but not as you know it.
  • (4/5)
    A highly entertaining who-done-it, sans detective. Instead, the story is told from the main character's POV - he's a brother of the dead man. The way the plot unfolds is masterful. Definitely a page-turner.
  • (4/5)
    A slow burn suspense book set in remote outback of Australia following a family and their troubles. I enjoyed how this wasn't a very detailed police procedure book, but more character and events driven. There are flashbacks hat are handled well and flowed within the narrative. I didn't enjoy the characters but the story and mystery and clever writing drew me in. One of my favorite reads I read this year.
  • (5/5)
    Love her books. Even though this did not feature her detective it was a wonderful book about family, situations and the outback
  • (5/5)
    Those of you who are fans of Australian author Jane Harper's two other novels (The Dry and Force Of Nature) will recognize her ability to keep a mystery revved up until she narrows down the suspects (usually with a red herring or three) and subtly reveals the denouement. In this new standalone, the story centers on a family of cattle ranchers in the deep Queensland outback, a terrain so treacherous that every time one leaves their ranch, they need to record their destination and time of departure in case they succumb to the intense heat via a car breakdown or an accident. Neither of which appears to be the case in the sudden death of Cameron Bright, the middle of three sons, whose body is discovered near a local monument, along with a functioning vehicle and a large stash of food and survival gear. Told from the point of view of elder brother Nathan, the cause of Cam's demise must be discovered without the assistance of local law enforcement. After the body is found, ragged family tensions are apparent as soon as Nathan returns to Cam's home, where his mother, nieces, younger brother Bub, Cam's wife, a long-time employee, and two random backpackers make up a cluster of likely suspects. The late father of the three boys, brutal Carl Bright, casts an evil shadow that brings them all to the edge of ruination. A smooth, quick, rewarding read.
  • (4/5)
    The Stockman's Grave is in the middle of nowhere--in the middle of a vast area of the Australian outback, a place few people go to. There are a myriad of rumors and stories about how the grave ended up where it was. So when Cameron's fatally dehydrated body ends up at the side of the grave, everyone wonders why.Cam and his family grew up in this desolate area and knew how to take care of themselves, knew how to pack the 4 wheeler with food and water to make sure they survived, if unfortunately they got stuck. But Cam's car was hours away if one walked, if one was stupid enough to walk in the devastating heat.The Lost Man by Jane Harper is more a story of a dysfunctional family than it is a mystery of how Cam ended up where he did. It is engrossing, frustrating, sad, joyful. You'll like almost every character, even some of the ones you're not supposed to like. Jane Harper is a top notch author and you should be reading all her books.
  • (4/5)
    The book opens as two men examine the dead body of their brother. Though I didn’t love this one quite as much as her other two, I was still completely sucked in. She describes the Australian outback in such a visceral way. The tension builds beautifully. Can’t wait to see what she writes next.
  • (3/5)
    The Lost Man is set on a cattle station in outback Queensland, many hours' drive from the nearest small town, or even the nearest neighbours. The body of a man is found next to a stone monument, the only landmark for many kilometres. His fully equipped vehicle is parked 9 kilometres away, laden with food and water, but the dead man has died of dehydration in the searing heat. That's all the Australian atmosphere there is: heat, dust, distance. I could picture neither the countryside, nor the station house. The description of the outback was generic. There was absolutely no humour - none of the dry laconic outback wit you'd expect - everyone was deadly serious and dreary. Quite un-Australian. There was even some British slang coming out of the mouths of outback Australians. (The author has spent some time in Australia, but even more in Britain, where she was born.) This is a competent crime novel, but it is not at all authentic.
  • (5/5)
    THE LOST MAN by Jane Harper is a very powerful and chilling story.“Two brothers (Nathan & Bub Bright) meet in the remote Australian Outback when the third brother (Cameron) is found dead.”“While they grieve Cameron’s loss, suspicion starts to take hold and Nathan is forced to examine secrets the family would rather leave in the past.”The landscape is the main character in this story. Its beauty, its cruelty, its danger.I can’t stop thinking about the characters, the layered plot, the brutality of the Australian Outback. This is a powerfully written work. One that stays with you, long after the last page is read.
  • (4/5)
    I was intrigued by the book due to its setting and great reviews. Set in the hot outback of Australia, this is a story of a family of three sons. The middle son is found dead from exposure far from his vehicle and home. Cameron Bright was the most liked of the three sons with a wife and two daughters and the owner and manager of a successful ranch. The oldest brother, the narrator of the story, is Nathan who is divorced and basically shunned in the local community due to a previous crime (or extremely bad judgment). Bub is much younger, not close to either brother and the most affected by the cruelty of their father.After Cameron's death, the story gradually unfolds revealing the family dynamics which were not always good. The cause of his mysterious death is not revealed until the final chapter. There are a few minor plot lines which seem a bit far fetched, but overall a good read.
  • (4/5)
    What I like about Jane Harper's novels is that she uses the unusual aspects of Australia as an important part of her plots. The Lost Man is no different. Here it is the extreme isolation and heat of the Australian Outback - it is almost a character in itself. And I found the way that people have to live when cattle farming here so interesting. Without preparation your environment will kill you quickly. The plot is not fast and towards the end the reader starts to suspect the reason for the crime but I did not guess the culprit at all. Very enjoyable read.
  • (5/5)
    Initially, I was charmed by this novel because the outback setting reminded me of The Flying Doctors, but there is actually a solid murder mystery at the core of the plot, plus some Christie-esque character interaction. The Bright brothers meet between their properties in the middle of the vast and dangerous Australian bush to reclaim the body of their middle brother, Cameron, who has died of dehydration on a local landmark, the isolated grave of stockman from long ago. But why did Cameron seemingly abandon his well-stocked and air-conditioned car to walk out into the middle of nowhere and perish in the unforgiving winter sun? Elder brother Nathan sets out to find the truth about what happened to his brother, and come to terms with his own past.The story is fairly plodding - Nathan never gives up investigating, but has a few domestic issues of his own to work through, including memories of his abusive father, a messy divorce, his teenage son staying with him for Christmas, feelings for his brother's widow, and the reason why nobody in town will talk to him - but the atmosphere of the family cattle ranch is just so claustrophobic and tense that I got instantly caught up in everybody's secrets! And yes, reading about the blazing sun of the Aussie outback on one of the hottest days of the year (in the UK at least) certainly helped set the mood!Definitely recommended, and I will be looking up Jane Harper's other novels (and possibly rewatching The Flying Doctors!)
  • (4/5)
    Australian Jane Harper has built a solid international reputation for her two crime novels featuring Federal Investigator Aaron Falk, The Dry and Force of Nature. Falk does not feature in The Lost Man, but his absence does not mean this novel is any less gripping or suspenseful than her first two. The story is set in the outback, at an isolated cattle station more than 1,000 km west of Brisbane during the hottest days of the Australian summer. The Bright family is one of the chief landowners in the area. One day shortly before Christmas Cameron Bright sets out on an errand but fails to return home, and his wizened body is later discovered at a local landmark called the stockman’s grave. Cameron—smart, experienced, respected—has succumbed to the pitiless and relentless heat, which can kill a man in a few hours. But what was he doing out there, alone, apparently unprepared and completely exposed? The most shocking and inexplicable aspect of the death is that his Land Cruiser—in perfect working order and fully stocked with water and food, none of which had been touched—is discovered about 9 km away. There was no distress call. The police force, which consists of a single officer, conducts a perfunctory investigation. But with no witnesses, no evidence that a crime has even been committed, and no suspects, the investigation stalls and produces nothing by way of conclusive results. Ultimately, it is ruled a case of death by misadventure, which means everyone assumes Cam, who by all accounts had recently been acting strangely and seemed to be troubled, took his own life. The family, especially Cam’s older brother Nathan, have doubts about this. Nathan, acting on nothing more than his gut, which pesters him with suspicions and a feeling that something is very wrong, starts nosing around, asking questions and peeling back the layers. Jane Harper is a patient writer, and the action proceeds slowly, haltingly, as myriad disconcerting family secrets and prior bad acts are dragged into the light of day. Nathan, a solitary soul with a complicated past, stumbles through a haphazard investigation into his brother’s death and in the process learns more than he wants to about himself and the people around him. One of the most compelling features of Jane Harper’s novels is her use of the Australian landscape to build tension and evoke human emotion. In The Lost Man, Australia’s beautiful, shimmering, deadly outback haunts every page. Jane Harper has outdone herself with this richly textured and thoroughly engaging novel.
  • (4/5)
    One of three brothers living on a remote cattle station is found dead of dehydration. The mystery is why he would have abandoned his fully stocked and safe car to wander several kilometers in the desert, ultimately leading to his death.This is more of a psychological study of a family with secrets than a murder mystery per se, and it does not move quickly. Nevertheless, I always wanted to get back to reading it, and I loved the descriptions of life in the remote outback--neighbors and town miles and miles away; schooling for your children by TV; walk-in freezers (cool rooms) for food storage; electricity by generator; a log to enter where you are going and when you will be back every time you leave the house. Recommended.
  • (4/5)
    This book came highly recommended by several bibliophile friends. I second that emotion! This was an excellent psychological, suspenseful novel. Set in the Australian outback, a family faces a sudden tragedy, which in turn leads to the revelation of a violent set of family secrets. Somehow, Ms. Harper is able to powerfully convey the outback's unique ability to shape people's lives. Survival is a daily effort, which embodies the entire novel. Excellent story of family, the power of secrets, and the will to survive.
  • (5/5)
    This is the first book by Jane Harper that I have read but I have heard that The Dry is excellent. I intend to listen to the audiobook of it soon.The outback of Australia is a harsh unforgiving land. People who live there learn to take food and water and a means to communicate any time they venture away from home. So why did Cameron Bright leave his vehicle some miles away when he visited the old grave near the boundary of his land and his brother's. Nathan Bright is the oldest of the three brothers and Bub, who lives on the family ranch with Cameron and family and their mother, is the youngest. But these are all grown men well-versed in the cautions of living in this land. Cameron died of dehydration and his body was found by the stockman's grave, a place that has its share of stories from years past. Nathan is determined to find out why his brother died but he also has to think about what will happen to the family ranch now that Cam is gone. Bub doesn't seem to have the interest or the intelligence to manage the ranch and Cam's wife might not be able to fill her husband's shoes. Nathan still has a partial ownership of the ranch so he has a fiscal reason for seeing it succeed. This also would bring him into close contact with Ilse Bright with whom he had a relationship before Cam married her. Nathan's own marriage has long ago broken down but he does have a nearly grown son that he has to consider. As Nathan continues to ask questions he learns more about his dead brother and his propensity for violence (just as their father exhibited while the boys were growing up). It looks more and more like Cam's death was not a horrible accident but was somehow perpetrated and the possible perpetrators are a pretty small group limited to those living on the ranch. The reveal at the end took me completely by surprise.Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    "He couldn't simply leave, for a lot of reasons. Financial. Practical. And not least because sometimes, quite a lot of the time, he felt connected to the outback in a way that he loved. There was something about the brutal heat, when the sun was high in the sky and he was watching the slow meandering movement of the herds. Looking out over the wide-open plains and seeing the changing colors. It was the only time he felt something close to happiness."I rarely start my reviews with a quote, but I wanted to share this description. It is descriptions like that one that pulled me into the story, let me feel as if I were truly there instead of simply reading and observing. This takes true talent, a talent that based on the three novels of hers I have read, this author has in spades. A stand alone, a story of a family who own a large cattle ststion in the outback. Three grown sons and various other family members as well as workers. When the middle brother is found dead by the stockman's grave, a suicide is suspected as he week knew never to go far away from his supplies, the heat a definite killer. The stockman's grave out in the middle of nowhere, a grave that has many urban legends attached. So we enter the life of this family, their secrets, past acts and grievances, things seen but not apparent nor questionable at the time. There is much tension simmering under the surface, and this death will bring all to the surface.The death is only the background, the family and their relationships, past misdeeds and abuses, at the forefront. A story that even those who do not read mysteries will enjoy. A setting that is beautifully described and prose where not a word is wasted. A family that has suffered much but still remain together. Although different from her previous two novels, I think this one is my favorite, it is so realistically portrayed. Now I have to wait impatiently for her next.ARC from Netgalley.