OUTBACK INTRIGUE/LOVELESS BACHELOR’S ADVICE TO BLOKES/A HEART-WRENCHING TALE/A STORY THAT HITS THE RIGHT NOTES
THE LOST MAN Jane Harper PAN MACMILLAN AUSTRALIA, RRP $33
Jane Harper’s best-selling debut novel The Dry took Australia by storm in 2016. The first in the Aaron Falk series, it thrust Harper into the spotlight. Even before it was released, actor Reese Witherspoon had bought the film rights and the book won the Victorian Premier’s Award for an unpublished manuscript. If you liked The Dry, you’ll love The Lost Man.. This piece of outback noir opens with the discovery of a body on a remote Queensland cattle station beside the headstone of the stockman’s grave, a site of local legend. The body is that of Cameron Bright, the loved owner of the sprawling property. His abandoned car is found several kilometres away, stocked full of food and water and with no apparent mechanical problems. Police suspect the father of two succumbed to the rigours of managing a 3500sq km property. But a blast from the past forces the family to reassess everything. Harper, who spent four months in outback Queensland, paints the menacing landscape brilliantly.
THE HONEY BADGER GUIDE TO LIFE Nick Cummins PAN MACMILLAN AUSTRALIA, RRP $30
Former Wallaby and recent Bachelor Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins speaks a language many Aussie blokes love. He’s a bit of a rough nut and uses a horde of unique phrases that undoubtedly draw a laugh. He’s even got his own thesaurus, dubbed Badgersaurus, dotted throughout his latest book so readers can adopt his many turns of phrase. After leaving two girls heartbroken in the finale of the Channel 10 series, his motives for joining the show were questioned. This book had to be rejigged before it hit the press to remove “love” from the title before the fallout of the show was revealed. For any blokes out there wanting to know the basics on how to be a decent fella, Cummins covers it all. From tips on how to seize the moment, be adventurous, chivalrous and even ways to handle the heat in the bedroom, he’s on to it. As for his time on the show, Cummins admits he struggled with it, but he doesn’t have any regrets.
VERDICT: Be true to yourself
THE SURVIVORS Kate Furnivall SIMON & SCHUSTER, RRP $33
A mother’s love for her daughter is put to the test but is never in doubt in this heartwrenching tale set in a displaced persons camp at the end of World War II. Among the melting pot of survivors from the Nazi reign of terror that tore apart Europe are Polish resistance fighter Klara Janowska and her daughter Alicja, who have trekked thousands of kilometres to restart their lives. But their hopes are dealt a blow when Klara discovers a dangerous figure from her past in the camp. Can both survive with the secrets they share but hope to keep hidden? This work of historical fiction explores the often forgotten subject of how survivors coped after WWII, having lost their old lives and families and endured unspeakable suffering in their fight to stay alive. This is a well-written, grim but ever hopeful story of resilience, secrets, love and the highs and lows of humanity in the shadow of death and destruction.
LOVE IS BLIND William Boyd VIKING, RRP $33
Brodie Moncur bears a striking resemblance to Robert Louis Stevenson, but whereas Stevenson was a renowned writer, the hero of this latest outing from Boyd ( A Good Man in Africa, Any Human Heart) is a piano tuner. The story follows Moncur at the turn of the 20th century from his home in Scotland to Paris, St Petersburg and other exotic locations in his work as a tuner for various maestros, and his flights south to ease the symptoms of his tuberculosis. He is a frequenter of brothels who finds himself in love with Russian singer Lika Blum, in an echo of the life of Anton Chekhov, another writer Boyd admires. It is a condition that renders Moncur the victim of a blind obsession and forces him to take further flight. This has all the elements that make readers want to find out what happens next and shows again what a great storyteller Boyd is.