Force Of Nature by Jane Harper

force

 

Length: 400 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

FIVE WENT OUT. FOUR CAME BACK…

Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.

The Review: From one set of women navigating a wilderness to this … erm, another group of women navigating the wilderness … (coughs).

So, to start, what a blurb, tells you everything needed to pull you in, and means I can tell you all about the book without worrying about spoilers, including the fact that it’s Alice that disappears, and it’s very much a case of did she leave or did something happen to her. The one thing I picked out of the book that still stays with me is that to start with one person called the name of Alice when they all found out she was missing, find that person and you find an innocent. Or are they all innocent? Or are none of them? (These ponderings are in no particular order, they’re just what I thought to myself, so don’t try to read into them!)

This was a book I’d left aside, firstly as I hadn’t read ‘The Dry’ which contains policeman Aaron Falk, and secondly because I’ve read so many crime/ thrillers set in vast wilderness that didn’t have the dialogue or storytelling to live up to the beauty the author could capture with their pen (well, computer, but I’m trying to soften this all a bit!). Actually I may as well start with Aarom Falk, because I’m afraid he was the only thing that didn’t work for me. I didn’t feel much for him or his past and wanted to get back to what was happening with the women every time he appeared. This is a pity as obviously there’s times the investigator reels you in as much as the story, but here it wasn’t the case. That being said the rest of the book was so good it just washed over me and I moved on.

The story is excellent because the group of girls work together as opposed to being real friends, so you get that politeness to start off with, because they don’t know each other that well, then the griping and little jibes as things go wrong, followed by all out fighting when everything falls apart and they struggle to find their way to camp.

There are some genius moments in this book including some excellent falsities that sent you totally on the wrong trail! I adored this book and gobbled it up, drinking in the different characters, their predicament and the amazing beauty of the wilderness they stumbled through . There are many people who are saying this is their book of the year to date and I can totally see why! Very much recommended and I’ll definitely get back to The Dry, which is on my Kindle. Thanks so much to Netgalley and Little Brown for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

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