I recently finished the latest book by Jane Harper. We again succumbed to temptation and decided we couldn’t actually wait till it was out in paperback and we didn’t want it as a kindle book either, so we have yet another hard back to add to our seriously overcrowded book cases – all 7 of them. It was worth it. Jane Harper was a journalist working in Australia when she published her first thriller, The Dry in 2017. It was a revelation and a delight. It was difficult to believe that this was a first novel, but it did set a very high bar for any future work. I’ll be honest, her second novel, Force of Nature, was ok, and we would have liked it if it wasn’t for her debut creating so many expectations. Her third, The Lost Man was a return to form and this fourth one, The Survivors is a cracker.
She writes about difficult relationships, lies and underlying tensions with skill. The Australian outback is an essential part of the first three books and the locations vary from a relentless drought in the first book, un-navigable bush in the second, and vast open tracts of barren cattle stations in the third. In this one, though, the action moves to a rather nice sounding coastal town in Tasmania. There is a tendency in the UK press to refer to any thriller with a bit of unpleasantness as ‘noir’, so Val McDermid for example, writes tartan-noir, as she is Scottish. In the same vein, Jane Harper’s books have been termed ‘outback noir’. Although these books are quite difficult in terms of the nasty murders, it’s the relationships between the characters and their underlying drivers that she really understands. It’s not in the outback and it’s not really noir.
Were we disappointed with our new hardback book? We were not. I finished in in 2 days.