The Survivors by Jane Harper

I really enjoyed Jane Harper’s book which was a good murder mystery. A bit of a slow burn but with all the right elements to keep the heat intensifying, as small pieces of information are disclosed through the book, dripped in carefully and masterfully with a few twists to surprise along the way. Eventually, the secrets that have been buried begin to bubble up to the surface to emerge, welcome for some to see but others would prefer to keep them hidden forever.

We follow Kieran who has returned to his home town with his girlfriend and baby to visit his parents and catch up with old friends who still live there. Kieran has struggled with the past and in particular, the loss of his brother and the incident that caused this is at the centre of the story, both past and present. When the body of a girl is found on the shore, echoes of the past losses that took place in the town ten years ago and caused three people to die start to resonate again in light of this new tragedy. Questions are asked that may or may not lead to the truth and Harper is keen to lead you one way, then another until you really don’t know which way the story is going to go.

Harper’s book is very atmospheric. There is a very real sense of the danger that the sea presents and the small town atmosphere is augmented to the brink of claustrophobia with everyone sharing their views on social media and pointing the finger in a knowing and sure (to them) way whilst the presence of the caves, which are a focus for Kieran throughout, are the physical manifestation of the closed anxiety that is palpable amongst the town’s residents.

The Survivors is a reference made to a statue but it is also a nod to the people who remain in the town; the ones who survived the storm and continue to try and make their way through life in the face of grief and guilt in the present where the book is set. An apt title indeed.

Tense, atmospheric with good characterisation and secrets galore, this was a great read.

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