16 January 2018

Review: FORCE OF NATURE, Jane Harper

Synopsis (Pan Macmillan Australia 2017)

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?

My Take

On the surface this crime fiction novel is a stand alone, but in fact it is the second to feature Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk. However I think it functions well as a stand-alone.

Two groups set out on a teamwork exercise - a men's group and a women's group - a bushwalk to cover three nights in the bush, camping along the way. Both groups belong to a corporate company from Melbourne. We learn almost nothing about the male group which completes its walk in time and apparently without problems. However within the women's group there are a number of underlying tensions which almost ensure that the team will fail. If the team does not make the campsite each night then they will have no food provisions as these are stored at each campsite. So the potential consequences for misreading the map provided can be catastrophic. One thing that took me aback was that the group had no means of contacting the organisers in an emergency and the organisers also had no way of monitoring the team and its progress.

Right from the beginning the reader knows that the women's team is late, and when they do emerge from the bush. one of them is missing. The question is whether "foul play" has occurred.

This is an engrossing read. Highly recommended.

The novel has been shortlisted for the 2018 Indie Book Awards, the winner to be announced on 26 March 2018.

My rating: 5.0

I've also read 4.7, THE DRY which won the 2017 CWA Gold Dagger

1 comment:

Kay said...

I loved THE DRY and am really looking forward to this one. Quite a different book from the first Aaron Falk, but that's OK. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


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