Friday, March 23, 2018

Force of Nature A Riveting Follow-Up in An Increasingly Intriguing New Series

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note:  While this review will not contain spoilers for Force of Nature, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, The Dry.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

No one at BaileyTennants is excited about spending the weekend team-building in the backwoods of the Giralang Ranges.  Too bad they don't have a choice.  If they want to keep their jobs, they'll have to suck it up and suffer through it without complaint.  

Separated from the men's team, five female co-workers enter the forest with little guidance as to how to rough it out in the wild.  With provisions spaced between camping spots that are miles apart and no cell phone service, the women soon realize they're way out of their depth.  Already simmering with pent-up tension, the group's emotions boil over when they find themselves hopelessly lost in the woods.  When they finally find their way back, only four remain.  What has happened to 45-year-old Alice Russell?  Did she stumble off a path somewhere in the wilderness?  Or has something much more sinister happened?

Aaron Falk, an agent with the Federal Police in Melbourne, presumes the latter.  Not because he's cynical but because he received a garbled S.O.S. message from Alice just before she disappeared.  He can't be sure exactly what he heard, only that it's sinister enough for Falk to join the investigation.  Along with his new partner, 38-year-old Carmen Cooper, he travels to the Giralang Ranges to help search for Alice and question the women with whom she was hiking.  What he uncovers is a chilling web of secrets that gives every one of Alice's co-workers a motive for killing her.  Did one of them ensure she would never make it out of the woods alive?  In a case that's growing more complicated by the second, Falk may never know ...

I really enjoyed The DryJane Harper's atmospheric debut—so naturally I was excited to read the next book in the series, Force of Nature.  Like its predecessor, the novel offers a rich setting, complex characters, and a twisty mystery.  Falk continues to be an understated hero who's likable because of his compassion and commitment to his job.  His partner is also an intriguing character, who will no doubt blossom in forthcoming books.  While I appreciated Force of Nature's tautly-constructed plot, I—like other readers—found it a little implausible that a group of inexperienced hikers/campers would be sent off into a forbidding forest without any kind of emergency equipment.  Other than that, though, I found myself completely convinced and absorbed by this compelling novel about the secrets we keep even from the people we see every day.

(Readalikes:  The Dry by Jane Harper)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (no F-bombs), violence, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-galley of Force of Nature from the generous folks at Macmillan via those at NetGalley.  Thank you! 

8 comments:

  1. I’m glad you liked it in spite of it’s implausibility. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook things like that when you’re enjoying the story.

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    1. It was just that one little thing that nagged at me ... otherwise, this is a solid thriller that I really enjoyed.

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  2. Sounds like an interesting read despite its implausibility. :)

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    1. It's a great thriller. I'm really enjoying Harper's books -- I hope she writes a bunch more!

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  3. You said it very well. And I agree about the group being sent out with little recourse for help. However, I don't know Australia. Maybe that's how it is. Ha!

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    1. Maybe things are different Down Under :) I can't imagine an experienced retreat organizing business overlooking such an important detail, though. At any rate, I'm really liking this series. Can't wait for the next one!

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  4. I enjoyed the The Dry very much, but this novel was a big disappointment.

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    1. Really? I didn't like it quite as much as THE DRY, but I still enjoyed this one. What didn't you like about it??

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