Author: Jane Harper
Published: February 6, 2018 by Flatiron Books
Hardcover: 326 pages
My Rating: 3 stars
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?
While this book brings us back in touch with Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk who we met in Jane Harper’s debut novel, The Dry, this really can be read as a stand alone. Just as The Dry put us smack dab in the middle of an Australian heat wave and drought in a small rural town, Force of Nature drops us right in the middle of the cold, wet and hostile environment of the remote Giralang Range. In both instances, Harper is a master at creating atmosphere. If you haven’t read The Dry yet, why not start there first? It’s probably easier to get at your library and I liked it better. Where Force of Nature is a very unique setting and premise involving co-workers forced into a team building exercise gone array, The Dry was more of a traditional small town atmospheric murder mystery.
Force of Nature is not by any means an edge of your seat thriller. It’s much more of a slow burn, quietly building to a satisfying conclusion. If you are looking for a different type of crime thriller that doesn’t involve a serial killer or gruesome scenes than you are going to like Force of Nature. It is told in alternating timelines between when the women were on the hike, and afterwards, when Agent Falk and his partner Carmen Cooper are trying to get to the bottom of what happened. As I learned more and more about each of the women on the hike, I found myself scrutinizing each one, and thought any one of them could have done it. My only complaint is that it took awhile for each of the five women’s personalities to solidify themselves in my mind. I found myself constantly trying to remember who was who and that did slow down my reading. All in all, it was another satisfying read by a master in atmospheric mysteries.