Library Journal Review
Cameron Bright's body is found in a remote part of his family's cattle ranch in western Australia; his car, which was stocked with supplies and in perfect working order, is parked nine kilometers away. With no sign of foul play, the police conclude that he simply chose to walk into the desert to his death. Cam's brother Nathan isn't so sure. Cam had a thriving business, employees who respected him, a wonderful family, and seemingly everything to live for. But if it wasn't suicide, what happened? The difficulties of being three hours from the nearest town are exacerbated for Nathan, who lives alone on the neighboring ranch, sometimes going without human contact for weeks at a time. The reasons for Nathan's isolation are revealed gradually and enhance readers' understanding of both the community and the individual. As with Harper's previous books (The Dry; Force of Nature), the Australian landscape looms large, and it's difficult to imagine the events in this novel playing out the same way anywhere else. VERDICT Even if readers guess why Cam died, they're likely to be kept guessing the how and the who until the end. Recommended for fans of the author and of mysteries set in rural communities. [See Prepub Alert, 8/13/18.]-Stephanie Klose, Library Journal © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Australia's outback, with its brutal climate and equally bruising isolation, looms as large as any character in this stark standalone from bestseller Harper (Force of Nature). For years, the three Bright brothers-divorced dad Nathan, the eldest; family man and everybody's favorite, middle child Cameron; and the mentally challenged youngest, Bub-have maintained an uneasy equilibrium on adjacent cattle ranches. That flies out the window the week before Christmas when Cameron goes missing; his desiccated corpse is subsequently discovered a few miles from his perfectly operational truck in the shadow of the eerie headstone known as the stockman's grave. Absent any clear indications of foul play, the local authorities undertake a perfunctory investigation, leaving a troubled Nathan to start asking questions that no one wants to answer. In the grim journey that follows, the surviving members of the Bright family must confront some devastating secrets. Harper's sinewy prose and flinty characters compel, but the dreary story line may cause some readers to give up before the jaw-dropping denouement. Author tour. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
New York Times best-selling Harper's two earlier novels were both constructed around the harsher extremes of the Australian outback, and in this one we experience the isolated and inhospitable desert in Queensland. It is a brutal existence for the ranchers who live and work there, in relentless heat, hours away from any vestige of civilization. When the sun-baked body of Cam Bright, experienced at desert survival, is found by his brothers adjacent to a lone headstone in the middle of nowhere, marking the stockman's grave, they are hard pressed to find an explanation. The answer is found only by revisiting their childhood, which was hobbled by a battered mother and flooded with terror by an abusive father. The atmosphere is so thick you can taste the red-clay dust, and the folklore surrounding the mysterious stockman adds an additional edge to an already dark and intense narrative. The truth is revealed in a surprising ending that reveals how far someone will go to preserve a life worth living in a place at once loathed and loved.--Jane Murphy Copyright 2018 Booklist