It was good to see Aaron Falk back in this second novel by (award winning) Australian author Jane Harper. For some reason he seemed like an unlikely hero in The Dry but he remains likeable here – perhaps more so with less personal baggage impacting on his role in the investigation (and novel).
I liked the addition of his colleague / work partner Carmen and think the book (perhaps series) is stronger for having her to act as Aaron’s foil.
Force of Nature
by Jane Harper
Series: Aaron Falk #2
Published by Macmillan Australia
on September 26th 2017
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
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?
The book unfolds from multiple points of view (Aaron’s and that of the four women who walk out of the bush after their hike) and across a number of days. I quite liked the way we flashed back and forth, from the investigation to the events of the days’ before and of course Harper times it perfectly, allowing us to know what eventually happens to Alice just as Aaron and Carmen (and their State Police colleagues) get there.
I liked that the women had backstories (Lauren’s and Beth’s in particular). I probably didn’t feel I got to know Jill or Bree quite as well. And of course we really only learn about Alice (for the most part) via her colleagues (and daughter).
Harper throws a few twists in at the end and I was kinda torn about the outcome. On one hand it felt a little anticlimactic, but on the other it felt kinda real… amidst so many possibilities.
It’s good to see Harper follow up her excellent work on The Dry with another quality thriller.
* As an aside, I was trying to remember another book I read (in the last couple of years) involving a number of people who head off on a trip / hike and not all return. When the story is told from each of their viewpoints their versions vary. (It will annoy me that I can’t remember it…!)
Force of Nature by Jane Harper is now available.