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The Survivors Reviews

The Survivors by Jane Harper

The Survivors

Jane Harper

3.83 out of 5

9 reviews

Imprint: Little, Brown
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication date: 21 Jan 2021
ISBN: 9781408711989

The brilliant new crime novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Jane Harper.

3 stars out of 5
6 Feb 2021

"A tight plot stuffed with well done twists and turns"

A tight plot stuffed with well done twists and turns make this a solid effort that will keep her devotees happy, but it’s missing something compared to her first books.

Their strength lay in their locations - Australia’s inhospitable climate and desolate landscape were a force in their own right, but the gentle swell of the waves on the beach in The Survivors just does not come close to the power of those early stories.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Barry Forshaw
1 Feb 2021

"in pellucid prose, Harper takes on board corrosive issues of guilt, memory and responsibility"

Kieran, his wife Audrey and their baby arrive to help move his dementia-suffering father to a care home. The town has grim associations for Kieran — his brother died there while trying to save him during a storm. On that day a young woman vanished, and a new murder makes these unbidden memories all too pertinent in the present. The pace may be a touch steady for some, but, in pellucid prose, Harper takes on board corrosive issues of guilt, memory and responsibility. As ever with her, the luminously described setting becomes a character in its own right, with the climax accompanied by the swell of the waves.

4 stars out of 5
Alison Flood
26 Jan 2021

"a compelling, terrifying thriller... Harper continues to go from strength to strength"

The Australian novelist Jane Harper is known for her excellent outback noir novels, from The Dry to The Lost Man, in which the harsh, sun-baked expanses of the landscape play as much a part as her protagonists. Her latest, The Survivors, moves the action to the coast of Tasmania, and shows that Harper doesn’t need sun and sand to write a compelling, terrifying thriller... When the body of Bronte, a girl who has been working in the local bar, is found on the beach, the events of the past come roaring back. As Bronte’s mother says: “Unless you want every secret in this place dragged to the surface, I recommend everybody in this room opens their mouths and starts talking.” Harper continues to go from strength to strength (although The Lost Man remains my favourite).

4 stars out of 5
Laura Wilson
23 Jan 2021

"a compelling study of the corrosive effects of grief and guilt"

The title refers both to a statue that memorialises a shipwreck and to the stoic citizens whose lives were disrupted by a fatal storm 12 years earlier...

The ending doesn’t entirely convince, but it’s both a solid mystery and a compelling study of the corrosive effects of grief and guilt.

4 stars out of 5
Geoffrey Wansell
22 Jan 2021

"Once again Harper demonstrates how good she is at portraying the fear and menace that lurk in ordinary lives."

The mistress of Australian noir returns with an emotional story about secrets beneath the surface of apparently respectable small towns.

The setting this time is not the Outback, but Evelyn Bay, Tasmania, where the sea provides the backdrop to this tale of a tragic mistake and its aftermath...

Once again Harper demonstrates how good she is at portraying the fear and menace that lurk in ordinary lives.

3 stars out of 5
20 Jan 2021

" Harper’s writing is as unobtrusively effective as ever"

Fundamental to the success of her previous novels such as The Dry has been Jane Harper’s subtle mastery of a sense of place, in particular rural Australia. Why stop now? The Survivors is, accordingly, set in a small town on the Tasmanian coast, yet the action is located as much in the hinterlands shaped by the aftermath of trauma... When a young woman is found dead on the beach, the stitches in old wounds begin to work loose. Yet while Harper’s writing is as unobtrusively effective as ever in setting the scene, this time the story itself never quite quickens enough to stir the blood. 

4 stars out of 5
Sarah Lyall
15 Jan 2021

"Harper skillfully evokes the landscape as she weaves a complicated, elegant web, full of long-buried secrets ready to come to light."

The title of the Australian writer Jane Harper’s latest novel... refers to two things. The first is a sculpture memorializing a shipwreck whose ghostly remains lie off the coast of Evelyn Bay, a tiny summer community in Tasmania. The second are the traumatized, secrets-harboring residents left behind when a devastating storm killed three of the town’s young people 12 years agIt’s hard to keep track of all the relationships — who loved or hung around with or betrayed or fought with whom, back when Kieran was a teenager and again now — but it’s worth making the effort. Evelyn Bay, utterly dependent on the sea, is a character of its own. As always, Harper skillfully evokes the landscape as she weaves a complicated, elegant web, full of long-buried secrets ready to come to light.

4 stars out of 5
Joan Smith
10 Jan 2021

"A new book from Harper is always an event"

 The title refers to three cast-iron figures, placed on a spur of rock as a memorial to a long-ago shipwreck. But it is also a reminder of a more recent tragedy, when two young men died during an attempt to rescue a boy trapped in caves during a storm. The boy survived, but one of the dead men was his elder brother, leaving him with a burden of guilt. Now living in Sydney, he has returned to help his mother to deal with his father’s dementia, and his reappearance opens old wounds in the town. It is the kind of set-up that Harper handles expertly, even if it feels more conventional than her previous novels.

4 stars out of 5
Nina Pottell
1 Jan 2021

"full of atmosphere and intrigue"

She's been named 'Queen of outback noir', and the Australian crime author's third novel is full of those secrets within small communities that she writes so well. Set in a coastal town in Tasmania, this tale is full of atmosphere and intrigue. Kieran and his family return to their family home when a drowning brings back memoiries of a fateful night years ago.