I didn’t think it was a good idea to start in on another mystery after falling so hard for The Dime, fearing that anything would suffer in comparison, but my library loan was expiring soon so I jumped into The Lost Man and hoped for the best. Turns out it was the best one two punch combo ever. They both have a western kind of feel and are slow burns.
The Lost Man takes place in the same universe as Jane Harper’s wonderful Aaron Falk series, just with different characters. You definitely don’t have to have read those before reading this one if you want to pick this one up right away.
This story builds slowly, so slowly that I almost DNF’d a quarter of the way through. I’m so glad I stuck with it because that set the stage for Harper to ratchet up the tension and intrigue. TLM takes places in the Australian outback in a “town” so remote that to travel somewhere unprepared is to invite death. Everyone carries food and water and car parts around with them because you never know how longer you’re going to have to survive for if you get stranded. The story opens with Cameron bright dead by the gravestone of the unknown stockman, a famous landmark in the area. His brother Nathan discovers him and that one event starts a chain of events bringing family wounds and secrets to life. This sounds much like any number of other books on the shelves, but this one stands out because of the believable characters and writing style, as well as the evocative, lonely locale that ends up being its own kind of character in the story. Harper’s prose isn’t purple, just very very evocative and effective.