Review: The Survivors by Jane Harper

Author: Jane Harper
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Released: September 22nd, 2020
Received: Own (BOTM)
Warnings: Drowning, guilt, dementia

4 kitties

The Survivors is the latest novel by Jane Harper, a mystery that is full of familial concerns, loss, and the weight of guilt.

Kieran Elliott made a mistake as a teenager – a mistake that nearly cost him everything, and has haunted him well into this adult years. Now, he’s heading back to his hometown, where his guilt, and the past, are weighing heavier than ever.

To make matters worse, a body is found on the beach. The timing feels almost too real for some, and it dregs up the past in ways that a simple conversation never could. Once again, questions are rising to the surface.

“We need to be looking out for each other, not at each other.”

The Survivors was one of those thrilling mysteries that sucked me in from the very first page, and refused to let go. I was immediately captivated by Kieran’s story, and the past he was trying so hard to keep at bay.

Throw in the inclusion of a new mystery, and really it’s no surprise that the pages flew past. Harper did a great job with pacing here – balancing reveals with rising tension, in a way that really kept me invested the whole way through.

Truthfully, my only regret about The Survivors is that it seemed to simply…end. Sure, the main mysteries are resolved, but I would not have said no to an extra chapter to help wrap things up. There are still so many (admittedly minor) questions I have running through my head.

Really though, if that’s my biggest complaint, we’re doing okay. I loved the themes of this novel, of guilt and grief, and how complex and messy they can be. How it can branch off and create these weird and painful moments in their own right. How it can make people do crazy things.

That felt like just one of the themes that was explored here, yet it certainly is the most poignant. It made the mystery feel more rooted in the real world, with emotions we can all sympathize with to help the story move along.

There were (secondary) characters introduced in this plot that almost make me wish that this could become a series. I could see some of them (the author in particular) accidentally stumbling into the sidelines of this sort of thing, again and again. A la Murder She Wrote.

Oh! Let us not forget the origin of the title, which is actually quite wonderful. It takes a while to get to that revelation, and it’s so delightfully subtle. It was not at all what I was expecting. One final touch to appreciate about The Survivors.

About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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