Summary and book reviews of Force of Nature by Jane Harper

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 2019, 352 pages

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About this Book

Book Summary

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, when a hiker goes missing, secrets and betrayal among friends are exposed, and Agent Aaron Falk will find out what happened.

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 on the corporate retreat is meant to take the office workers out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. But one of the women doesn't make it.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case - in just a matter of weeks she was due to help him bring down both the company she works for and the people she works with.

In an investigation that takes Falk from isolated bushland to city headquarters, he discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder? This is as atmospheric, tense, and explosive as the bestselling The Dry, and marks the continuation of a terrific new series.

1

"Don't panic."

Federal Agent Aaron Falk, who until that moment had had no plans to do so, closed the book he'd been reading. He swapped his mobile phone to his good hand and sat up straighter in bed.

"Okay."

"Alice Russell is missing." The woman on the other end said the name quietly. "Apparently."

"Missing how?" Falk put his book aside.

"Legitimately. Not just ignoring our calls this time."

Falk heard his partner sigh down the line. Carmen Cooper sounded more stressed than he'd heard her in the three months they'd been working together, and that was saying a lot.

"She's lost in the Giralang Ranges somewhere," Carmen went on.

"Giralang?"

"Yeah, out in the east?"

"No, I know where it is," he said. "I was thinking more of the reputation."

"The Martin Kovac stuff? It doesn't sound anything like that, thank God."

"You'd hope not. That'd have to be twenty years ago now, wouldn't it?"

"Going on for twenty-five, I think."

Some things would always linger, ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The legacy passed from one generation to the next, is a theme throughout Force of Nature. Falk has an idea of who his father was, but his colleague Carmen has another take. Do you think Falk was wrong about his father?
  2. How much do you think parents in this novel should hold responsibility for their children's actions? Joel Bailey uploads intimate images of Margot Russell. Margot bullies Rebecca until she becomes anorexic. How do their parents deal with this?
  3. "It was like stepping into a fun house mirror. Two faces, each a distorted reflection of the other, looked up in unison." Identical twins Beth and Bree are not the only mirror image in Force of Nature. Alice tells Lauren to "buy a mirror" to understand ...
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Here are some of the comments posted about Force of Nature.
You can see the full discussion here.


Bree and Beth each remark on how dissimilar they are now—have they really grown that far apart?
They have grown apart over the years, in part due to different choices they’ve made and different lifestyles. It’s hard for Bree to accept that her sister is a drug addict, but this trip throws them together and makes Bree realize that she still ... - juliep

Can you trust the narrators' accounts of Alice?
I agree with all the responses above. Alice appears to be "the mean girl" both in school and business. We've all met the type - pretty, smart, ambitious, and ready to step on anyone to get what she wants. That is what came through to me from the ... - scgirl

Did you figure out what happened to Alice before her fate was revealed?
I guessed that she was dead, but I wasn’t sure who had killed her. There were a lot of possible characters who could have done it, but I did think it would be one of the women. - juliep

Did you pick up on any “red herrings”? Were there clues that helped you determine what was actually going on, and if so, what were they?
I wasn't 100% but I didnt think the Kovak plot would turn into anything, I was fairly positive that if she died someone from the company did it. I was thinking more of one of the owners though and not the sisters - inkdrunnergirl

Do you feel sympathy for the Baileys? If so, how is this achieved?
I think we all agree that the Baileys had choices. They did not have to follow into the business. I do feel some for Jill she seemed feel she did not have choices, but as expressed above, she was an adult - nancyh

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

For fans of well-written, plot and character-driven page-turners, this tense, atmospheric novel is an excellent choice (Barbara F). Harper has written an atmospheric novel that checks all the boxes of book worth reading. The locale, the characterizations, the interplay between the people, and the twist at the end all keep the story engaging up to the conclusion. A highly recommended book (Norman G). It was easy for me to give this one five stars, I struggled to find a flaw. Another marvelous book in the Aaron Falk series! (DeAnn A).   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review (685 words).

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Media Reviews

The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
Gripping thriller will have readers hooked.

Publishers Weekly
A gripping tale of an elemental battle for survival…Harper once again shows herself to be a storytelling force to be reckoned with.

Library Journal
Set against the fascinating backdrop of a wild, rural location in south Australia...Presents an intriguing crime that might not actually exist and potential suspects with realistically complex personalities and possible motives. The two story lines, past and present, collide with a satisfying yet not gratuitous conclusion.

Kirkus Reviews
Harper’s crackerjack plotting propels the story…Harper layers her story with hidden depths, expertly mining the distrust between Alice and her four colleagues, and the secrets that simmer under the surface…A spooky, compelling read.

Booklist
Starred Review. Riveting, tension-driven thriller…Perfect for fans of Tana French and readers who enjoy literary page-turners.

Australian Women’s Weekly
As thick with menace as the bush that seems to swallow the difficult Alice…Force of Nature cuts between past and present, corporate and domestic, and cements its author as one of Australia’s boldest thriller writers.

Sydney Morning Herald
Manages to be two things at once. It's a financially skewed police procedural with a likeable detective with his own personal trajectory at its heart, and it's something of a "locked room mystery". The fact that the "locked room" is neither in a vicarage, nor on an island, but somewhere in the claustrophobic vastness of the Australian bush renders Force of Nature all the more original and engaging.

Elle (Australia)
Harper’s mastery of pace makes Force Of Nature one of 2017’s best thrillers.

Herald Sun (Australia)
Force of Nature proves Jane Harper, author of The Dry, is no one-hit wonder. Its premise is instantly gripping.

The Saturday Paper (Australia)
The narrative is finely constructed, with perfectly measured pace and suspense. So much so that it reminded me of another master of form, Liane Moriarty...So does Harper’s new book live up to the first? I was thrilled to find that it does. The novel delivers and Harper writes like a dream.

Author Blurb Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Wish Me Dead
Jane Harper is a must-read writer, and Aaron Falk is the Harry Bosch of the outback. Force Of Nature is a remarkable hybrid of suspense, wilderness survival, memorable characters, and gorgeous writing.

Author Blurb ?Susie Steiner, bestselling author of Missing, Presumed and Persons Unknown
I loved The Dry. Force of Nature is even better. Brilliantly paced, it wrong-foots the reader like a rocky trail through the bush. I adored it.

Author Blurb A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window
A major voice in contemporary fiction . . . Force of Nature bristles with wit; it crackles with suspense; it radiates atmosphere. An astonishing book from an astonishing writer.

Author Blurb Sarah Hilary, author of the bestselling DI Marnie Rome series
Lord of the Flies in the Australian outback, with grown women in place of school boys. I loved every chilling moment of it. A blistering follow-up to The Dry from one of the best new voices in crime fiction.

Reader Reviews

KatherineP

A Force of Nature--It Is!
Having read The Dry, I was really excited to receive the second installment of Harper's Falk series from BookBrowse to discuss on their website. I was not disappointed. Five women are selected to make a trek into the outback of Australia by their ...   Read More

RebeccaR

Enjoyable, Realistic, Scary - All in One!
For anyone who has ever groaned (audibly or mentally) about team-building exercises in the work place or corporate retreats to hash out (yet again) job or co-worker issues, then Jane Harper's novel will instantly strike home. However, no matter what...   Read More

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...   Read More

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 ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Australia's National Parks

In Force of Nature, a group of women on a work retreat become lost in Australia's Giralang Ranges. While the Giralangs are fictional, Australia is home to thousands of national parks and conservation reserves. According to the National Parks website; "these areas protect a huge variety of environments – from deserts to rainforests, and coral reef to eucalyptus woodlands."  While most of the parks are administrated by government agencies in each of Australia's eight states and territories, a small number are managed on the national level by Parks Australia, including the country's six Commonwealth National Parks, the Australian National Botanic Gardens and 58 Commonwealth Marine Reserves, protecting some of the ...

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