This is the second novel by the exciting new Australian novelist, Jane Harper. Harper again features the character of Detective Aaron Faulk who was central to the story of “The Dry”, which was a hit with bookclubs and all readers in 2016.
This story is based on a group of work colleagues, who are sent on a workplace teambuilding hiking adventure. The team is divided into two groups, with the male members heading off on one route, and the five females heading off on another route. The plan is to meet back at the starting place after two nights out in the bush. The men make it back in plenty of time, but after a long delay, only four women return.
Like her last novel, Jane Harper builds the tension of the mystery disappearance gradually. The reader knows that one of the hikers will not make it back, but it is quite sometime into the story until we know who has actually disappeared. Leading up to this point in the story, and through the various interactions of the different characters, we learn of their different relationships and the numerous tensions that already exist amongst them. I certainly spent a great deal of my reading time in a state of suspense, wondering what was going to happen and to whom!
When the unfortunate event occurs it is both unexpected, but also unsurprising. The relationships between the various characters have been built up in such a way that the reader comes to various conclusions as to who might be at fault. It is only through the careful investigation by Detective Faulk and his colleague that the full story and chain of events is revealed.
This novel, much like “The Dry”, is a guaranteed good read for most readers, so if you are still wondering what to get for the “hard to buy for” person on your Christmas list, “The Force of Nature” will solve that problem.