‘Force of Nature’ sees the return of Detective Aaron Falk of the Australian Federal Police who we met in Jane Harper’s brilliant debut novel ‘The Dry’. We are once again taken to a hostile Australian environment, this time with constant rain rather than drought.
Aaron Falk and his partner Carmen Cooper are investigating financial irregularities in a small company run by the Bailey family and they have been receiving documents from one of the staff, Alice Russell, who has been offered immunity for her help.
Members of the company, including Alice, have just been on a company bonding exercise, hiking through the Giralang Ranges several hours drive from Melbourne. But of the five women who were hiking together, only four have returned. Alice has gone missing. And Aaron has discovered a phone message from Allice left at around 4 in the morning and mostly comprising static.
As the search for Alice gets underway, Aaron and Carmen travel to the Giralang Ranges to interview Alice’s colleagues to find out if she was killed because of her duplicity. They are being pressured by their bosses to obtain the remaining documents, but with Alice missing they don’t hold out much hope.
We also find out the story of the 5 woman hiking together – the tale of how a simple 3 day hike turned into such a disaster with all 4 of the remaining starving, dehydrated and injured after several days lost in the bush.
Meanwhile, a number of the staff are facing crises in their personal lives.
What has happened to Alice and can the case against the Bailey family be resurrected?
I was concerned that Jane Harper would not be able to repeat the success of her first novel, after all, how much personal history can Aaron Falk have. But I needn’t have worried. We still get plenty of personal information about Falk as well as the stories of Carmen and the five women involved in the hike.
Once again the novel was very atmospheric and having hiked in the Australian bush in the rain, I could feel everything that the women were going through.
I loved this novel as much as Jane Harper’s first and I can’t wait till the next one.