The Survivors by Jane Harper

1. First lines. 2. Published 2020 Macmillan 3. Beach, rocks [Public Domain] via Pxhere 4. Girl, backpack [Public Domain] via Pxhere

Kieran Elliott has come back to see his mother at his childhood home in a small coastal town in Tasmania. With his partner and baby, he reconnects with the friends he went to school with. The death of his brother Finn twelve years ago still haunted him, and when a body is discovered on the beach, the town’s secrets are revealed.


“He closed his eyes and slept, thick and heavy. He stirred only once, when, somewhere deep within his dream, he heard the sound of a door slam.”

“Kieran followed his gaze to the caves, their gaping mouths opening onto the thin strip of beach that flashed white with each breaking wave. The Survivors stared back at him, impassive. A particularly large wave crashed into the sculpture, and the woman at the edge of the trio disappeared completely for a second.”

My opinion:

Great story, but it lacked the tension I expected.

The opinion of others:
  • Sydney Morning Herald:The Survivors is a subtle, quiet book about guilt, grief and growing up.”
  • Written by Simon: “I call it a ‘whodunit’ rather than a ‘thriller’ because the fate of its cast is never really in question, and its suspense — perhaps ‘tension’ is a better word — is procured not from a looming menace, but revelatory conversations between its characters, of which “The Survivors” has a Greek chorus, sharing contradictory impressions as the truth of what happened today — and years ago — remains tantalisingly difficult to determine. Harper’s latest has the twisty plot, evocatively sketched landscape, and page-eating pace  punctuated with emotional heft we’ve come to expect.“

Jane Harper

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