Lead Review

  • Book: The Survivors
  • Location: Tasmania
  • Author: Jane Harper

Review Author: Tina Hartas



This is a mystery set in fictional Evelyn Bay, a small town on the coast of Tasmania, riddled with secrets.

Kieran and Mia return with their baby daughter Audrey to help his parents pack up the family home. His father is suffering from dementia and his mother wants to relocate to somewhere more suitable, where they can get more appropriate support and care.

Kieran and Mia have hardly arrived and the body of one of the seasonal workers, working at the local Surf and Turf pub, is washed up in the water. This is not the first death in the town. Several years ago there was a terrible storm, lives were lost, property damaged and Kieran has been carrying the burden of culpability for something that happened way back then. At the time a young woman also went missing and that is still a mystery that hangs over the community.

Suspicion falls on a variety of people, the police start their investigations and Kieren starts to put the pieces of the jigsaw  together.

This is a slow burning mystery which I listened to as an audiobook on my Covid walks; I delighted in the dulcet tones of narrator Stephen Shanahan, with his gently undulating Australian accent. The author is adept at creating setting, redolent of the coast and the sea, the landscape and the pounding waves. There is a series of caves where people have congregated but are known to be extremely dangerous, she creates a real sense of foreboding. There is a sunken boat where divers can explore the wreck, and the sculpture, titled The Survivors, stands witness to this tragedy.

The author really knows how to paint small town life, cloying in its intensity, as she dwells on the interactions, the motivations and the grudges that build up and linger. She has created such a convincing end-of-season feel to her setting. It is a well constructed storyline – at times a little overly ponderous – that kept me listening right to the end.

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