I so looked forward to this book. I totally enjoyed both of Harper’s priors, The Dry and The Lost Man. Those were terrific and I loved the settings, characters, the plots and the tension. So the day The Survivors came out, Feb 2, I was downloading.
by Jane Harper (Australia)
Read by Stephen Shanahan 11h 57m
Rating A+ / crime suspense
First impressions? Alas – the reader’s accent is so thick I was mistaking Kieran for Karen. And Ash sounded like the nickname for Ashley, a girl. Wrong. To add insult to injury, the Prologue doesn’t give names and it’s only a fore-taste of something which happens much later in the book – it’s not really a Prologue. But Chapter 1 suddenly has about 8 characters at a restaurant and getting through Chapters 2 and 3 things seemed to get worse as the 8 were interacting. I kept reading but nothing cleared up. At Chapter 7 someone is killed and to prevent further confusion, when I got to Chapter 8 I just started over. This was still only about 10% – not bad.
Anyway, in the second go at it I took out a yellow pad and started scribbling character names as I came across them, along with a tidbit of interesting information about them.
Kieran, age 30 and Mia have a new baby named Audrey and they have come home to a tiny town in Tasmania to see his parents and their old friends. Kieran’s parents are Verity and Bruce Elliott. Bruce has dementia and is about to go into a home. Ash an old friend of Kieran’s, is a bachelor boy who seems to flirt a lot – he runs a landscape business. Olivia is a waitress and a friend of the group, housemates with Bronte who is also a waitress but from out of the area. Then there’s Liam who is a youngish cook at that restaurant and also works part time for Ash. He tells Bronte that Kieran is a killer and killers deserve what they get. Chapter 4 introduces Sean, another good friend, a travel guide, and the housemate of Ash. There are other characters but those are the main ones.
So the friends, Ash, Kieran, Mia, Sean, and Olivia are at this seaside restaurant, talking and catching up while Liam and Bronte (neither of whom are part of the old clique from high school) are in the kitchen talking. Kieran overhears this and is very uncomfortable. “It was the day of the storm…” It seems everyone knows that Kieran killed Liam’s father (Sean’s brother) as well as his own brother. Few people hold grievances but Liam is unforgiving.
Later that night a body is found on the beach. – okay – Now I felt I needed to know who was who!
The narrative goes back and forth between the old days, a decade prior, and the present. I wouldn’t say it alternates because there’s not that much order to it. It just drifts back and forth with the memories of the group. The title has several meanings or references.
The characters are pretty well drawn if you read carefully. The setting is well done but it’s not The Dry. The story is wonderfully well plotted but it takes time to grow into its own. I stayed up very late last night finishing this It has a great ending.
Hi, Becky! A year ago during a hospital stay, The Dry was getting me through some long nights when a doctor mentioned that his wife, the ER doctor, was also devouring it. Sometimes hospital books are just that (see Death Bite by Monahan and Maryk) but it’s been gratifying to see Jane Harper’s popularity soar in the general population as well. Your positive review is the icing on the cake. Thanks, too, for the suggestion about keeping a character list – always nice to know before I become totally lost and give up. I went on to read The Lost Man and found that Harper’s are the only books that I’ve really been able to focus on during this pandemic lockdown. This one sounds like fun too.
Yes -It does start slow but it’s fun and gets more fun the further you get into it – the tension builds and Harper is a master at that.