LIFE is tough in the isolation of Queensland’s Channel Country – particularly for a single farmer trying to make a go of it almost entirely on his own.
As a social outcast Nathan Bright knows the predicament all too well. Nathan has spent the past decade ostracised by his neighbours and former friends for a split-second error of judgement he will never manage to undo, banished from the local pub, the general store and every form of community gathering.
Few people are surprised, then, when they hear one of Liz Bright’s boys has been found dead in a remote, arid paddock, having left the security and supplies of his vehicle to wander out into the sun-baked savannah seemingly by choice.
It does shock listeners, however, that the dehydrated corpse is that not of Nathan but his brother Cameron: two years younger and happily married with two healthy daughters, in charge of the family’s station and seemingly beloved by everyone within a thousand-kilometre radius of tiny Balamara.
Distraught, Cameron’s widow cannot accept that her husband would have willingly done such a reckless thing. He had grown up on the property; he understood perfectly the danger of exposing a human body to the Outback’s searing mid-summer heat.
Now it’s up to Nathan and his teenaged son – visiting for a few days from Brisbane, where Xander lives with his mother after his parents’ agonising divorce – to unravel for the benefit of the survivors the hows and whys of Cameron’s gruesome death.
While this is not an Aaron Falk police thriller, fans of Jane Harper’s writing with a memory for detail (or those who reread The Dry before picking up this third novel) might recognise an unexpected link in this story of regret and atonement to Falk’s Kiewarra, a tiny Wimmera town crippled by a toxic blend of distrust and drought.