Jane Harper has a honed talent for absorbing her readers in a setting and immersing them into the lives and minds of her characters. In her latest book, The Lost Man, Harper maroons her audience in a desolate landscape in Western Australia. Her protagonist is a deeply saddened cattle rancher who has been ostracized for a former transgression by the small community that populates the lonely expanse. Nathan Bright is first introduced at the site of his brother’s recent death near an isolated gravestone. Given the area’s harsh climate, he died excruciatingly of exposure without benefit of shade and supplies. Accompanied by his other brother and visiting son, Nathan is left to wonder why his brother would have fallen victim to those elements that they were acutely aware of and had adapted to throughout their lives. As the novel progresses, it is revealed that Nathan is somewhat estranged from his family, divorced and teetering on the edge of a deep depression. When he reluctantly gathers with his family during their mourning, he recalls missed opportunities for a different life. He regrets having squandered a chance to win over the woman who became his deceased brother’s wife. There are flashbacks to his childhood with an abusive father and the resulting necessity for the three brothers to choose between self-preservation and protecting each other. Unconvinced that his brother had committed suicide, Nathan begins digging into his past and discovers layers of secrets and lies that permeate the entire family. The Lost Man presents an intriguing mystery and character study with a tone that expertly evokes the dread and unease of its unforgiving setting. Fans of The Dry and Force of Nature will be delighted with Harper’s new standalone novel that further proves her prowess as an innovative and versatile author.