Force of Nature by Jane Harper
Publisher: Little Brown UK
Release date: 8 February 2018
Back cover blurb: FIVE WENT OUT. FOUR CAME BACK... Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice's welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them. 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 landscape 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 - and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with. Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.
The Dry was one of my favourite novels of 2018 so I had high expectations for Force of Nature and I was not disappointed.
Force of Nature opens with the focus on five women and five men from family firm, BaileyTennant on a corporate retreat (read expensive team building exercise) to the Giralang Ranges. Equipped only with camping equipment, maps, compasses and enough food and water for surviving in the outback for three days.
The two groups are sent their separate ways. The men arriving back at base three days later, with plenty of jokes about women’s navigational skills and timekeeping. The jokes soon stop as only four women make it to the final checkpoint, arriving several hours late.
Alice Russell is missing and most of the women injured in one form or another. Just what happened out there?
When Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk is woken in the middle of the night by his police partner Carmen, he assumes it’s related to the investigation they are working on together into BaileyTennants. It is, but not in the way he’d imagined.
When he turns on the TV to see reports of “Missing Alice Russell” his heart sinks. Have the police put the key witness in a monumental whistleblowing case in danger? Fall and Carmen head to Giralang Ranges to join the hunt for Alice.
The four women who were on the corporate retreat with her all have very different stories to tell. Each one insistent that Alice left the group of her own accord and it was nothing to do with them. FLj is certain none of them are telling the truth, but who is hiding what and why?
What really happened to Alice Russell ? Well you'll have to read for yourself to find out...
Force of Nature is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.
Thank You to the publishers who sent me an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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