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Force of Nature

A Novel

by Jane Harper

Force of Nature by Jane Harper X
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 8, 2019, 352 pages

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Power Reviewer
Cloggie Downunder

another excellent example of Aussie Crime Fiction
“It wasn’t any one thing that went wrong, it was a hundred little things. It all kept adding up until it was just too late.”

Force of Nature is the second book in the Aaron Falk series by award-winning Australian journalist and author, Jane Harper. A late-night call has AFP agent Aaron Falk and his Financial Intelligence Unit partner Carmen Cooper heading for the Giralong Ranges. A corporate team-building weekend has gone wrong and one of the participants, Alice Russell, is missing. Alice is the whistle-blower in their current case, so Falk and Cooper are concerned that her actions have been exposed to their target, resulting in some sort of retaliatory action.

But when they arrive, the local Police Sergeant shares his own concerns: that Alice may be a victim of Sam Kovac, the son of notorious serial killer, Martin Kovac, whose killing field was in the Giralang Ranges. And as they question the remaining members of the party, they become aware of just how unpopular Alice was with her colleagues. Could she have come to harm at their hands? Or has the pressure simply become too much, prompting her to disappear off the scene? Has it anything to do with certain photos and clips spreading on social media?

Falk’s second outing is easily as fine as his first. The narrative alternates between Falk’s observations as he investigates, and the account of events during the weekend from the perspective of each of the four remaining participants. It soon becomes apparent that none of those questioned is completely candid about what happened, or what they know. The storyline is highly credible, with several twists and red herrings keeping the reader guessing right up to the exciting climax.

Harper effortlessly evokes the Australian winter mountain landscape, and her characters are typical of those one might encounter in an office environment. Falk’s inner monologue and his dialogue with Cooper give the reader insight into his career choice and personal history, and reinforce his integrity. This is another excellent example of Aussie Crime Fiction and, whether or not it features Aaron Falk, more from Jane Harper will be eagerly anticipated.
Lynda C. (Sault Sainte Marie, MI)

Force of Nature by Jane Harper
I quickly became absorbed in this excellent second novel by Jane Harper. Force of Nature sees the return of the intriguing Federal Agent Aaron Falk. He, along with his partner, Carmen Cooper, is investigating the disappearance of an informant Alice Russel. Alice has disappeared during a corporate team-building retreat in the Giralang Ranges.

For me, the compelling power of the storytelling in this book lives in the descriptions of the landscape and the characters. And their relationships.
The landscape is raw, treacherous, challenging, claustrophobic, dark, dangerous, sometimes beautiful...and echoes aspects of the characters.
The characters are complex and multi-layered. Not one character in this novel is without purpose and as the layers are peeled back, secrets and truths and strengths and vulnerabilities are exposed. The tensions between and among the characters around the central tragedy of the novel are what made the pages turn with rapid speed for me.

Aaron Falk is a fascinating character whom I hope plays a recurring role in future books. However, I am so impressed with Jane Harper that if she writes it, I will read it!
Jeanne B. (Albuquerque, NM)

What They Said
Almost anything I could write would be repetitive of my fellow BookBrowse five-star reviewers, with all of whom I agree completely. So I will just add this. Jane Harper writes mysteries as if they are the highest literary art form. If you like mysteries of any kind, you will love this book. If you like character-driven fiction, you will love this book. If you like to read books, you will love this book. I give Force of Nature my highest recommendation and sincerely hope the third book in the Aaron Falk series is nearing publication, as it will be hard to wait for more from this supremely talented author.
M K. (Minneapolis, MN)

Force of Nature
How do you feel about hiking in the unfamiliar Australian outback, following a topographical map on a team-building exercise with fellow workmates you don't even like? Such is the beginning of this page-turning novel where one of the participants doesn't return with the rest of her group. The story switches back and forth between the hike and law enforcement trying to unravel the mystery of what happened to the missing hiker. This is the tension that the novel feeds to you in slow delicious increments, and it's a book, that from the first few pages, is hard to put down for very long.
Alan K. (Westport, MA)

A Real Pager Turner
Although this is the second novel with Federal Agent Aaron Falk it can be read as a stand alone. Switching between the Federal Agents looking for a missing hiker and the hikers on a forced corporate retreat in the dangerous Australian bush it is a page turner right to the end. The characters are well developed as is the story line. I recommend this book for the mystery/suspense book lovers.
Maureen R. (Alamo, CA)

Forces at work in Force of Nature
Force of Nature, by Jane Harper, is an intelligent, suspenseful, and tension filled novel. As with The Dry, Harper uses Australia's challenging physical environment as yet another character to consider in solving a crime. While five women begin a harrowing corporate team building adventure in the Australian bush, only four return. Agent Aaron Falk, once again, must solve a crime that originates as corporate misconduct and ends with possible murder. Family plays an important role in finding answers, family business and family dynamics, but there are many other forces at work here. Both Mother Nature and human nature are participants, and in this page turning thriller, we experience the cruel and contentious side of both. By nature, we are a curious lot and Force of Nature keeps us on the edge of our seats and guessing until the very end!
Sherrie R. (Fort Worth, TX)

Looking for a terrific mystery to lose yourself in?
Federal Agents Falk and Cooper are anxiously waiting to hear from their undercover source of a company they are investigating. At the same time the members are on an Outward Bound type of retreat in the deep woods. Five women go in but only four come out. What happens is told by alternating points of view, from the agents waiting on the outside....and the women who are confronted with multiple issues as they try to find their way out.
This is a fast paced thriller I couldn't put down.
Will definitely look for other books from this author.
Laure R. (Fresno, CA)

Author's 2nd Novel Doesn't Disappoint
Set in the rugged Australian Bush, a corporate retreat designed for "team building" goes horribly wrong.

The terrain and climate are described beautifully as are the five women participating with complicated back stories and interesting ties to one another. I was left with a very clear vision of the land and the physical challenges her characters experienced.

The author in her debut novel "The Dry" introduced Aaron Falk, a federal police officer, and I was most happy to find him returning as a strong character in this book as well. I sincerely hope to find him again in her next book.

I found this book filled with suspense and surprise. It was extremely hard to put down. I recommend it to all.

Beyond the Book:
  Australia's National Parks

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