ABOUT THE BOOK:
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?
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Force of Nature by Jane Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Force of Nature by Jane Harper is a 2018 Flatiron Books publication.
A solid, gripping, edgy thriller-
When five women go on a team building expedition out in the unforgiving and dangerous Australian Giralang Ranges, which was also once upon a time, the stomping grounds of a serial killer, whose son may be following in his father’s footsteps, things immediately go awry.
Among the group, is whistleblower Alice Russell, who is attempting to divulge to Aaron Falk and his partner, Carmen, information regarding a massive money laundering scheme her bosses are running through their company.
But, while the men’s group makes it through the retreat unscathed, the women didn’t fare quite as well. Not only are they late getting back from camp, they come back without Alice, who allegedly took off on her own. Alice, if left out in the elements for much longer, could die.
After receiving a puzzling and cryptic call from Alice, Aaron and Carmen arrive on the scene to help with the rescue efforts while also trying to determine if their investigation may have put Alice in danger.
Along the way, they learn that Alice was not well liked at all by her colleagues, due to her mean and cutting remarks, bullying, and brash attitude. Not only that, her co-workers arrived back from camp injured, edgy, and tense. Could they have something to do with Alice’s disappearance?
‘The Dry’ was one of my favorite thrillers last year. As a result, I’ve been sitting on pins and needles awaiting Harper’s follow up novel, which also features Aaron Falk.
While I must admit right up front that I didn’t find this book to have the same hyper intensity or the same tautness as Harper’s debut novel, this follow up thriller is still a very original and atmospheric tale.
The story is more focused on the women, and what happened during that three -day retreat while they were lost out in the wilderness, running low on food and other supplies and dealing with Alice, who seemed determined to make everyone as miserable as she is. Aaron and Carmen’s investigation, and the rescue efforts, seemed to take a back seat, simmering in the background.
The Australian landscape once again provides an intense environment and plays a large role in creating just the right atmosphere, while the serial killer thread ramped up the apprehension, adding a creepy feeling to go along with the jittery suspenseful adventure and disquieting psychological drama.
I enjoyed touching base with Aaron, who seemed a little fragile still, and I truly like Carmen and the way she so easily reads Aaron. Too bad she’s engaged to someone else. However, they do make a great team and I am just as excited about a third installment featuring Aaron Falk as I was about this one.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jane Harper is the author of Australian atmospheric thrillers, The Dry and Force of Nature.
Winner of numerous awards including the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, the 2017 Indie Award Book of the Year and the 2017 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Australian Book of the Year Award, The Dry is Jane’s first novel, with rights sold in 29 territories worldwide and film rights optioned to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea.
Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne.
Her second novel, Force of Nature, was published in September 2017 in Australia and will be released in the US and UK in February 2018.