Force of Nature by Jane Harper has been voted as the best read from our December/January issue! Read our review of the novel below.
Aaron Falk is back. This time he has a colleague: Carmen Cooper. Both are police officers in the financial division of the Australian Federal Police, based in Melbourne. There’s skulduggery afoot in a well-known Victorian family business. Aaron and Carmen are being pressured by their superiors to obtain certain crucial documents from the firm’s archives.
A whistleblower in the organisation, Alice Russell, has agreed to obtain the necessary computer files.
Once a year, the firm sends 10 employees into the rugged Giralang Ranges east of Melbourne to undertake a team-building exercise. This year, nine emerge at the end of the mission; Alice is missing. Aaron and Carmen join the search party.
Jane Harper’s first book, The Dry, emphasised drought; this time the action is concentrated in a rainforest. It’s an area where four young female hikers went missing some years ago. Three bodies have been found and Martin Kovac, a serial killer, was arrested. One bushwalker, Sarah Sondenberg, is still missing. Her parents have accepted that she’s unlikely to be alive but they would like her body to be found. They want to give her a proper burial.
Aaron checks to see if Martin Kovac is still in jail.
The author takes her time to lay the foundations of this thriller. The pace is measured, the horror factor G-rated and the denouement unexciting. That’s all perfectly fine, as it’s the interaction of the participants on the corporate retreat that holds our attention.
Employees have time for reflection. Many secrets, misunderstandings and faults are revealed. Regrets, unresolved family issues and serious spiteful acts are there for us to appraise and criticise. Not everything deserves to be forgiven.
Five participants realise they are lost and there is no mobile reception, so blood pressures rise. When water and food supplies become dangerously low, panic is just below the surface. That’s when the pace picks up and the author holds our interest.
Reviewed by Clive Hodges
Congratulations to Sue from Port Adelaide Enfield Libraries whose vote won her this month’s draw to win two recent releases!