Review: The Survivors by Jane Harper

Title: The Survivors

Author: Jane Harper

Published: 22nd September 2020, Macmillan

Status: Read September 2020 courtesy Macmillan/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

The Survivors is Jane Harper’s much anticipated fourth novel, a stand alone, slow burning mystery set on Tasmania’s coast.

Kieran Elliot, his girlfriend, Mia, and their infant daughter, have returned to Evelyn Bay to help his parents pack up their family home. It’s an uncomfortable homecoming for Kieran who still blames himself for the death of his older brother Finn, and Finn’s best mate, in a tragic accident during a violent storm. The same storm during which a fourteen year old girl disappeared, and was never found.

When a young woman’s body is discovered on the beach the day after they arrive, it seems the sea has claimed yet another victim, but investigators soon determine she was murdered, and as the search for her killer begins, the secrets of the past begin to unravel.

While the present day mystery in The Survivors revolves around the murdered girl, an art student/waitress with only a tangential link to Kieran, it’s her unwitting connection to the events twelve years previously amid the storm that marks her as the catalyst of this story. Unfolding from Kieran’s perspective, the story moves between the present and memories of the past. Well-considered red herrings distract as the plot takes unexpected twists, slowly revealing tightly kept secrets. But while I was intrigued by the story, and really had no idea who would be found responsible for the murder, I felt there was a distinct lack of tension in the novel, not helped by the conservative pacing, leading to what was an anticlimactic conclusion.

Harper’s characterisation of Kieran is compelling though, with a nuanced portrayal of a man burdened with grief and guilt. The supporting characters are sufficiently fleshed out to suit their role in the story, though few feel like active participants. I thought the dynamics of a small community under stress were well illustrated, and uniquely communicated through the town’s online forum.

The story is undeniably atmospheric, with Harper masterfully conjuring a brooding seaside town during the off-season, perched above deserted cliff-side beaches and dark, echoey caves slowly filling with cold, creeping waves. The sea becomes a pitiless thing, claiming the innocent and guilty alike.

The Survivors is perhaps not as thrilling a mystery as I had expected, but it is involving, evocative and affecting.


Available from Pan Macmillan Australia

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Also by Jane Harper reviewed at Book’d Out



Review: Force of Nature by Jane Harper



Title: Force of Nature {Aaron Falk #2}

Author: Jane Harper

Published: Pan Macmillan September 17th, 2017

Status: Read March 2019



My Thoughts:

Force of Nature is Jane Harper’s second novel featuring Australian Federal Agent, Aaron Falk. Her first, The Dry, was a phenomenal success (you can read my review here) and Force of Nature is a solid follow up.

In Force of Nature, Falk, and his new partner Carmen Cooper, are investigating a company for money laundering. They are expecting to wrap the case in a matter of days, with help from insider, Alice Russell, when she goes missing during a corporate retreat.

The story unfolds through multiple perspectives, as it moves between the events leading up to Alice’s disappearance and the current active investigation. This allows Harper to introduce several possible motives for Alice’s disappearance, and develop an interesting mystery that kept me guessing until the end. Though I thought the pace was a little slow to begin with, the tension builds incrementally, and the plot is elegantly resolved.

Falk didn’t have the strong presence in this novel that I was expecting. He is peripheral to most of the action, and there were no new insights offered into his character. Neither was his partner, Carmen, particularly memorable.

I think I may have been more invested in the story if I had liked Alice. Though well drawn, she is an unpleasant character and I didn’t much care whether she was found, or not. I didn’t have any difficulty visualising Alice’s companions on the hike, Harper’s characterisations, and the dynamics between them, were interesting and complex.

Set largely in the Giralang Ranges of Victoria, Harper does a commendable
job of evoking the close, wet, and disorientating atmosphere of the Australian bush. As in The Dry, the setting is not simply the background of the story, but an integral part of it.

Force of Nature is well written, with a mystery that is skillfully crafted and compelling. I’m looking forward to Harper’s next Book in the series.



Available to Purchase @

Pan Macmillan Au or your preferred retailer

Learn more about The Dry, the first book in the Aaron Falk series