• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of The Survivors by Jane Harper

This is my favorite Harper mystery so far. On the Tasmanian coast, characters explore loss and grief and the swirling mysteries surrounding long-ago events and a fresh tragedy.

I'm a big Jane Harper fan. Her mysteries are set in Australia, and she makes me care about her characters while keeping me guessing through twists and turns, without any of it feeling manipulative.


In The Survivors, Kieran and Mia are back for a visit to their small coastal hometown. Kieran's father is suffering from memory issues and wanders at night, and his mother is readying to move them into a more controlled environment. But as with every visit home, Kieran is reminded of a careless mistake he made as a teenager that led to the death of his brother and another friend in a terrible storm.


No one's forgotten the heartbreak of that day, nor has there been very much healing from the pain of a young woman's disappearance that occurred at the same time. Some members of the town haven't forgiven, either, and they blame Kieran. This all makes for days fraught with emotion and enormous tensions hearkening back to the long-ago tragedy.


The Survivors is my favorite Harper book yet. Set on the coast of Tasmania, the story centers around a tightly knit community, complicated expressions of loss and grief, and attempts to uncover what truly happened on that fateful day. When a fresh tragedy occurs, it brings the pain and terrible mystery of years past swirling back to wreak more havoc.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Although this book is set on the Tasmanian coast, Harper often sets her stories in an Australian bush setting, and her sometimes spare writing style complements the stark, often brutal backdrop. This often makes her books feel like Westerns to me, as with her book The Lost Man.


The Dry (Aaron Falk #1) is set in small-town Australia with dark secrets and twists and turns; and she offers more of her excellent pacing in Force of Nature (Aaron Falk #2).