December 23, 2018
Force of Nature
Force of Nature (Aaron Falk, #2) by Jane Harper
Finished on February 26, 2018
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
A major voice in contemporary fiction. Like Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series and Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie novels, Jane Harper's deftly plotted mysteries double as sensitive inquiries into human nature, behavior, and psychology. Force of Nature bristles with wit; it crackles with suspense; it radiates atmosphere. An astonishing book from an astonishing writer." (A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window)
Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along a muddy track. Only four come out on 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 encourage teamwork and resilience. At least, that's what the corporate retreat website advertises.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker, Alice Russell. Because Alice knew secrets, about the company she worked for and the people she worked with.
The four returning women tell Falk a tale of fear, violence and fractured trust during their days in the remote Australian bushland. And as Falk delves into the disappearance of Alice, he begins to suspect some dangers ran far deeper than anyone knew.
I loved The Dry (the first installment in the Aaron Falk series) and was very happy to get a copy of this new release, which grabbed me from the opening pages. After a chapter or two, though, my enthusiasm began to wane and it wasn't until I had read half of the book before it really captured my interest; then I couldn't put it down. I liked the addition of Carmen to the mix of returning characters and was glad the author decided to stop reminding us of Aaron's burned hand. Set in Australia, I should have known this installment would also have its share of poisonous creatures. The Dry had spiders, so guess what's in this one? Snakes! A carpet python and tiger snake, if you really must know. Ugh.
Overall, I enjoyed Force of Nature, but it didn't call out to me as much as The Dry. I had to suspend disbelief that such a dangerous retreat was not better supervised, given that it was run by a seemingly professional company, and the uneven writing wasn't nearly as taut as that in The Dry. But, I never did figure out whodunit, so it was still an enjoyable read. I'm anxious to see how Harper does with her next release, The Lost Man, which is due out in February. It's nice to get in on a series from the very beginning!