Publication Date: Available Now from Little Brown
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.
Weirdly, just as I was finishing this one, an email publicity shot for team building courses popped up. Erm no thank you. Not after reading Jane Harper’s incredibly atmospheric, absorbing and often disturbing tale of a hike gone horribly wrong. But was it Mother Nature or human nature that caused one to be left behind…
I was extraordinarily pleased to see the return of Aaron Falk, the brilliantly drawn character from this author’s masterpiece “The Dry” – whilst “Force of Nature” is a very different beast, the beautiful sense of place Jane Harper brings to her narrative remains, as does the insightful and compelling characterization and the totally gripping plot construction.
Pacy and cleverly done, we watch the search unfold, follow Falk as he attempts to discover whether his witness disappearing is anything to do with his case, whilst in flashback we see the women start their journey and watch them slowly disintegrate in a very Lord of the Flies type manner – although perhaps more realistically. It is utterly gripping, gorgeously unpredictable and a proper literary page turner.
If you loved The Dry you’ll love this. If you haven’t read it then do, THEN read this. This is perfectly placed crime fiction, tackling socially relevant themes against a beautifully immersive backdrop, entertaining, haunting and authentic. You can’t ask for more really.
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