Friday Book Whimsy: The Lost Man

While visiting the Australian outback is on many people’s bucket list, it has never been on mine. Even visiting the less remote areas of Australian doesn’t particularly appeal to me.

Having said that, one of the things I most enjoyed about The Lost Man, by Jane Harper, was its Australian outback setting. It gets to be a cliché, but nevertheless, the weather conditions and the wilderness (and all things that go along with that) definitely play a strong role in this amazing mystery.

I’m very familiar with Jane Harper and her excellent writing from her series that also takes place in Australia, perhaps because this British-born author now resides in that country. Her two-book (so far) series (The Dry and Force of Nature) features federal agent Aaron Falk, who runs into all sorts of trouble in a much more populated area of Australia.

In this unrelated novel, Nathan and his brother Bubs Bright, who own adjoining cattle property, are dealing with the apparent suicide of their middle brother Cameron. By appearances, Cameron headed out into the outback, abandoning his car that has all of the necessary supplies to keep him alive. The police are calling it a suicide. Nathan and Bubs disagree, and they think it was murder, and begin to investigate.

The more they look into the matter, the more secrets they uncover. Family secrets that many would like to see buried.

Harper’s writing is amazing, and I found myself with this book, like the Aaron Falk series, finishing a chapter and being unable to refrain from starting the next.

I found the book’s ending satisfactory, though not a complete surprise, at least for me. As for traveling to Australia, after reading the book, I believe the reader will either want to book the next flight or never want to visit Australia, EVER.

It’s a great read.

Here is a link to the book.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Dry

The Dry, by Jane Harper, takes place in a small town in Australia, the kind of small town where everybody knows everyone else’s family and has their nose into who’s doing what. It’s from that small town that Australian Federal Agent Aaron Falk escapes after one of his friends is found dead decades before, and he was a suspect in her murder. Now, his childhood BFF Luke – who provided Aaron’s with an alibi that kept him from being arrested – has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, after killing his wife and his young son.

So, after all this time, Falk returns home for the funeral, and to try and come to grips with how this friend could have possibly done something so uncharacteristic, so against his nature. Well, it turns out that Luke’s parents also don’t believe it, and they convince Falk – who isn’t a homicide investigator, but instead conducts financial investigations – to, well, investigate.

But here’s the thing: Falk knows that the alibi that Luke provided years ago was a lie; however, he also knows that he was innocent of the crime. Could the two murders be connected in some way? He reluctantly agrees to spend a few days looking into the deaths.

The author doles out the secrets of both crimes little by little, leaving the reader to suspect different people throughout the book. The plot is set against the worst drought in a century. The writing is so good that you can practically fill the heat and hear the crunch of the grass as the characters walk through the plot.

I found the solution unpredictable almost to the end of the book, though I will admit to figuring it out just a bit before the detective.

The Dry is the first in a series, and her second book – Force of Nature — was released this past February. I’m eager to see if it’s as good as The Dry.

Here is a link to the book.