Force of Nature by Jane Harper – REVIEW & GIVEAWAY
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 fear had started to crystallise back at the river bank, with a quality she had felt perhaps two or three times in her life. A realisation: This is very wrong.”
Thank you to NetGalley and the lovely people at Little Brown UK for letting me read an advanced copy of Force of Nature. Jane Harper’s debut mystery novel The Dry was one of the books chosen for my postal book group on Litsy. It was an atmospheric mystery-thriller with a beautifully evocative setting and one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read. It seemed a huge task to expect her next novel to live up to my expectations but I think it was actually even better. The prologue perfectly sets the scene and atmosphere of the novel, confirming my love of the author’s sophisticated writing style.
“He tried to imagine what it had been like for the women out here, alone and afraid. He suspected whatever he could conjure up would not even come close.”
The premise of this story is refreshingly simple – five women go out hiking but only four return. The narrative switches between the past and the present. It jumps backwards in time slowly revealing what happened during the three-day hiking trip then returns to the fallout in the present. It’s skilfully handled and well-plotted with only snippets of information being leaked at a time and woven into the unfolding events of the present. The descriptions of the fictional Giralang Ranges are immersive and beautiful. Where The Dry focused on the searing heat of an Australian drought, Force of Nature captures the almost mythical tale of being lost in isolated bushland. I’m already looking forward to the setting of the next book.
“Whatever had happened to Alice, she was out in the open, exposed. Somewhere, beneath the howl of the wind and the groan of the trees, Falk thought he could almost hear a death knell toll.”
The creepy atmosphere is heightened when the women stumble across a cabin linked to notorious serial killer Martin Kovac. Are the women truly alone? The tension between the women escalates as food and water run out. The descent into almost feral arguments and the increasing suspicion among the women combine to evoke an atmosphere of doubt and blame. What secrets are they each trying to conceal from the detectives and each other? Aaron Falk is quite a detached character but the author even manages to explore his backstory a little more with the help of his partner Carmen. Hopefully they both return for the next mystery. Force of Nature was a well-plotted and sophisticated story that read like the work of a more experienced writer. Jane Harper’s phenomenal talent means I’m a devoted fan and she’s now an auto-buy author for me.
Little Brown publishers have kindly sent me a hardback copy of Force of Nature to give away to one lucky reader. To enter all you have to do is retweet the following tweet:
GIVEAWAY! If you fancy winning a hardcover copy of #ForceOfNature by the phenomenally talented @janeharperautho then just RT to enter! Open UK only due to postage costs. #giveaway pic.twitter.com/2BMLnByGao
— Rachael Mills – Scorpio Book Dreams (@rachael_emma_89) February 6, 2018
Terms and conditions
1. Winners will be chosen using a random name generator
2. Competition closes midnight 18 February 2018
3. No giveaway accounts
4. This giveaway is UK only (sorry!)