First Sentence: From above, from a distance, the marks in the dust formed a tight circle.
Every family has its secrets. Bub Bright was to have met up with this brother Cam at Lehmann's Hill. When he didn't find Cam the next morning, an alarm when out and a helicopter pilot spotted his body lying at the stockman's grave, having died of heat and dehydration. Nathan Bright and his son Xander join Bub at the sight, eventually finding Cam's car in perfect condition, gas tanks full, and fully stocked with food and water. It's up to Nathan to learn what brought Cam to this deserted and desperate place to die.
What a visual opening Harper has created on which she elaborates to impress upon one the desolation of the location—"The fence stretched a dozen kilometers east to a road and a few hundred west to the desert, where the horizon was so flat it seemed possible to detect the curvature of the earth."
The characters are ones with whom one can identify, two of the best being Cam's daughters. They are real, have problems and conflicts; albeit it a few more than many families, and histories. Harper uses words in a way which can touch one's memories and emotions—"…she reached up and put her arms around Nathan, too. He hugged her back. The movement had the rusty edge of underuse."
Harper does a very good job of weaving together the stories of each character with the others to form a tapestry showing the underlying currents. This isn't an edge-of-the-seat action book, but it is one that is intense and compelling so that, end the end, the cloth can be unwoven to expose the weakness which caused the undoing of the family.
"The Lost Man" is a story of a family, its secrets and the price which can be exacted. In the end, it's a story of coming to peace.
THE LOST MAN (Novel/Mys-Nathan Bright-Balmara, Australia-Contemp) - VG
Harper, Jane - StandaloneFlatiron Books, Feb 2019