The Survivors

Flatiron. Feb. 2021. 384p. ISBN 9781250232427. $27.99. SUSPENSE
Kieran and his girlfriend, Mia, return to their childhood hometown in Tasmania with their infant daughter to help Kieran’s parents move to mainland Australia. Twelve years earlier a terrible storm left two men dead, including Kieran’s brother, Finn, who died trying to rescue Kieran. A young girl also went missing in the storm’s aftermath. Burdened by guilt, Kieran moved to Sydney and has not been home since. When a woman is found murdered on the beach, the police begin to question whether the previous deaths are in some way connected. Rumors begin spreading in the small town, and Kieran must face the possibility that the events of the past may not be as he remembers them. Further complicating the matter is that Kieran’s father, suffering from dementia, was the last person to be seen with both the missing girl years ago and the current victim.
VERDICT Harper (The Lost Man) again excels at creating atmosphere and depicting tense interpersonal relationships. But unlike her previous stand-alone, this story’s suspense doesn’t escalate satisfactorily. Instead, the author delivers a nuanced rumination on guilt, community, and family that’s best for readers of domestic fiction or light mysteries.
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