Force of Nature (Aaron Falk #2)…
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?
Force of Nature is Jane Harper’s follow-up to her award winning crime novel, The Dry, and it more than holds its own under the shadow of its predecessor. Fast paced and suspenseful, Force of Nature had me cursing at the need for sleep because Jane Harper is an absolute master at ending each chapter with a dangler that is impossible to resist.
Richly atmospheric, Jane Harper’s strong command over her setting drives the tension within Force of Nature. We feel the penetrating cold, sense the claustrophobic closing in of the endless bush, and later, baulk against the sinister aura of the deserted cabin the women sheltered in. As their panic set in, so too did mine, and I appreciated the realistic portrayal of their desperation. I felt the overall storyline was authentic in its escalation as well as its resolution. I could honestly see this entire scenario playing out in the same manner in real life.
I enjoyed getting to know Aaron Falk a little better and liked the addition of a female partner this time around. If Jane Harper intends on taking these two forward as a crime duo, it will be a great move. The two detectives were well balanced against each other, with the beginnings of a solid friendship beginning to form, but no romance – thank goodness! The quickest way to kill a crime series is to have the detectives get personally involved with each other.
On a final note, if my employer ever suggests a hiking/camping/survival type of team building exercise, I’ll be disappearing – and it won’t be into the bush!
If I had to pick a favourite, I probably enjoyed Force of Nature a shade more than The Dry, but this may be just Jane Harper showing signs of getting better with each novel. Time will tell, but in the meantime, rest assured that if you liked The Dry, then you’ll like Force of Nature, and that’s probably all you really needed to know!
Force of Nature is book 74 in my 2017 Australian Women Writers Challenge.