Published by Little Brown on February 1st 2018
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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 Giralang Ranges 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 - in just a matter of days she was to provide the documents that will bring down the company she works for.
Falk discovers that far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. But does it include murder?
My Goosebumps have Goosebumps…and as for my spine, it has had tingles running up and down it for the last hour and no joke, it’s 11PM, I have work in the morning and I honestly think I’ll be sleeping with my light on.
Yes, FORCE OF NATURE was that awesome!
2017 saw the debut of Jane Harper, the wonderfully, amazing, well crafted and utterly glorious novel “THE DRY”. I extol on its virtues extensively here. It was also my top read for the entire year so FORCE OF NATURE while waited for with bated breath, was also tinged with slight apprehension because how could Harper top THE DRY? Make no mistake people! She does it with ease! I still have butterflies just thinking about those last few chapters. You know! When you read it you’ll know…get to it!
The welcome return of Aaron Falk sees him tackle the mysterious disappearance of one of his contacts in the Australian Bush whilst on a corporate retreat. As in The Dry, Falk’s primary expertise as a police officer does not cover missing persons but he and partner (a welcome introduction) Carmen Cooper find themselves right in the thick of it as four women emerge screaming, distressed and noticeable missing a colleague, Alice Russell. As the days pass, Aaron and Carmen uncover the intriguing dynamics of five women who work together, their intricate and often fraught relationships both professional and personal and the surprising actions of them that may both explain the disappearance and lead to the return of Russell.
Harper has many strengths but one of my favourites is her talent to craft characters that are so vivid you feel that if you reached out your hand your fingertips would brush against them, your nerve endings vibrating with the sound of their voices. The quiet trust between Falk and Cooper grows with each page and I loved the development between the two. The five women that are at the centre of our mystery are endowed with colourful and well realised personalities and each of the smaller, secondary but by no means less important characters made their presence felt and were in no way forgettable.
The plot itself chugged along nicely, capturing your attention and always keeping you guessing. For the first time in years I was surprised by the eventual reveal of who was behind it all and relished being kept in the dark although my aforementioned spine didn’t thank me (it’s still tingling).
There wasn’t really any doubt that Harper would produce a winner yet again but I must say how genuinely thrilled I am to finally have another author to stick on my “no questions, just buy it, shut up and read” list. 2018 may have just under 11 more months left but just like 2017, I’m not sure if it’s going to get any better than this!
FORCE OF NATURE – buy it, read it, love it. You’ve been told! 😉