About The Book
Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, asks: How well do you really know the people you work with?
When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path.
But one of the women doesn’t come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened.
Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?
Last year I read The Dry by Jane Harper and I absolutely adored it, it was clever, human and utterly compelling. When I found that she had written a second novel, Force of Nature I knew that I had to read it. I had fallen in love with her writing, her sense of place and her characterisation of Aaron Falk. There is always a worry that a second novel will not live up to expectations but I didn’t have to worry as Force of Nature is just as exceptional as its predecessor.
We are thrown straight into the action with a wonderful opening chapter filled with atmosphere, dread and tension which really sets the scene for a gripping and compelling novel. Nobody creates characters, a general sense of unease and plots quite like Jane Harper. I became so involved in the book that I ended up devouring Force of Nature in one sitting on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Whilst The Dry was set in the extreme heat of a heat wave and drought, Force of Nature is located deep in the Australian bush at the Giralong Ranges. There is a constant drizzle, the terrain is hostile and it is infamous for it being the location of a number of abductions and murders of women 20 years earlier. The bush is the location for a weekend team building exercise for business BaileyTennants. Split into a male and female team, armed only with a map and compass they have to find their way through the bush and to a final meeting point on Sunday afternoon. The men arrive back safely but the women are severely delayed, and when they do finally arrive, one of them, Alice, is missing. Federal Agent Aaron Falk and his partner Carmen know Alice – she is a whistleblower and is helping to bring charges against BaileyTennants for fraud. The last call she made on her mobile was to Falk, leaving a ghostly voicemail where the words, ‘hurt her’ could be heard.
Force of Nature is a masterpiece in storytelling and plotting, I had no idea what happened, why it had happened or who the culprit was and so the resolution was a satisfying surprise. This is a book where the plot slowly unfurls, clever flashbacks allow us to be voyeurs of the women as we follow them over the weekend. The weather combined with the conflicting personalities and hostile relationships create a pressure cooker building between the women as they wandered further and further off course.
Jane Harper excels in writing relationships, whilst The Dry examined a society on its knees from drought, broken families and friendships, Force of Nature shines a light on the complexities of female friendships. The rivalries, subtle nuances and the sly underhand digs wrapped in a smile are wonderfully portrayed and add tension to an already tense and suspensful situation.
Whilst this is the second book in the Aaron Falk series it can be read as a standalone novel, however, I would recommend reading The Dry first as there are some references to previous events and to understand Aaron Falk’s psyche. I have a huge soft spot for Aaron and this book sees a very different man to the one we met in The Dry and we can see how the events that took place have affected him. I look forward to meeting Aaron again.
I am thrilled to be one of today’s stops for the Blog Tour for Force of Nature, many thanks to Kimberley Nyamhondera at Little, Brown for inviting me on to the Blog Tour and for supplying me with a copy of the book in return for an honest review. Force of Nature is published on February 8th and can be pre-ordered here. Make sure to check out the other stops on the tour, details beneath!