Force of Nature

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Feb 2018

Member Reviews

Not as riveting as The Dry, but still really, really, really good. I absolutely need a third book - apparently The Lost Man is a standalone? D: But I need more Aaron Falk!
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A suspenseful tale of what happened to a group of women while out on a team building hike through the bushland. It keeps the reader guessing until the very end. Highly engaging and I'll look forward to reading more by Jane Harper.
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In this second Aaron Falk police procedural, Aaron has transferred to a corporate fraud division.  He and his new partner, Carmen, are working with an insider to uncover corporate fraud in a large company run by the Bailey family.  Falk is surprised to get a midnight call from the insider, Alice Russell, indicating that she is in trouble.  He discovers that she is off on a corporate bonding exercise in the wilderness.  When he investigates further, he is shocked to hear that Alice is missing.

There were five women in the group, given the task of surviving for a weekend by themselves.  Four of the women have made it out, although off the track of where they should have been located.  The women are in bad shape, one with a head wound, another having been snake-bit.  Jill Bailey is one of the executives of the company, a family member who never really had any other career options than the family business.  Brea and Beth are twenty-something twins, Brea an executive assistant to Alice and Beth working in the data department.  Lauren has known Alice for years as they went to the same boarding school and have daughters now that also attend it.

Although there is civility among the women in the office, it soon breaks down in the bush.  Once they stray from the path and become lost, rivalries and disagreements become rampant.  They argue about what to do and who will lead them.  Now four have returned and one has not.  Can Alice be found before something happens?  Has her insider work with the police been discovered?

This is the second novel in the Aaron Falk series.  It is another interesting peek into Australian culture and the landscape that seems to so intimately affect Australians with their can-do attitudes.  Aaron is still working out what his first case meant to him and how he has changed while Carmen provides good-natured guidance.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.
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I did not read Jane Harper's first, but I am tempted to go back and read her first book because I enjoyed this one so much!
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Jane Harper's books, The Dry and Force of Nature, have both been excellent.  I reviewed "The Dry" for The Houston Chronicle, and I thought the work was great.  I did not review Force of Nature for a publication, but I thought the work was as good or better than "The Dry," a huge compliment.
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I'm not sure what I like most about Jane Harper's books, the Australia setting  or the main character Aaron Falk.  She keeps the story moving and interesting.  I look forward to more of her stories.
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I can't get enough of this author. These books give such a great sense of the Aussie bush. I'd recommend this to anyone. Great storyline, great thrill with some amazing turns and twists along the way.
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This book confused me a bit. Wasn't there somone in the woods watching the cabin while the women were there. Seemed to pop up and then never reamerge. Dispite that I still enjoyed the mystery of what happened.
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A great sequel of a thrilling series that has me up late reading into the night! I couldn't put this down and I hope there is more coming! This is one I will be bringing to my book club because I know that my adult readers will delve into this amazing thriller.
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Flatiron Books and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Force of Nature.  I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has returned to solve a new mystery, this time in the vast Australian wilderness.  Along with his new partner, Agent Carmen Cooper, Falk has been asked to investigate the disappearance of a woman from a corporate retreat.  As it becomes increasingly apparent that the circumstances surrounding Alice Russell's disappearance are more than meets the eye, will Aaron and Carmen be able to find the woman in time?  Is their connection to Alice to blame?

The author attempts to build suspense in Force of Nature by alternating between the present and the events of the past that lead up to Alice's disappearance.  Although this is a good way of twisting the story and keeping the reader off balance, the constant switching of perspective negatively affected the story itself.  The development of Alice Russell's character took a big hit and I was never truly able to connect with the woman.  As compelling as Alice's story was, I did not feel the sense of urgency that would have propelled the searchers as they looked for her.  The connection of Alice, Aaron, and Carmen should have been fleshed out a little more, as I did not think the author fully explained or developed that part of the story.  Overall, I enjoyed the mystery and the setting in the harsh landscape of the Australian wilderness.  I would recommend Force of Nature to readers who like mystery/thrillers and I look forward to reading more by author Jane Harper in the future.
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Force of Nature is Jane Harper’s second novel and again features federal agent Aaron Falk.  Taking place in a wilderness area in Australia, five women hike into the woods as part of a corporate retreat.  Several days later only four reappear.  Aaron Falk has a particular interest in the missing hiker, who has been a confidential informant for him in regard to financial crimes that have occurred in the corporation where she works.  It’s apparent that there are more than several secrets that various members of the retreat are trying to hide.

This book is a strong follow-up to Harper’s debut novel, The Dry.  It is a character-driven book with rich dialogue and descriptions.  It alternates between the past and present, adding yet another layer to an already interesting plot.  Some might find this type of book tedious but I found it to be compelling, well-written and difficult to set aside for any length of time. This is a book that kept me up well-past my bedtime.  I heartily recommend Force of Nature.  But, before you start reading, make sure you have given yourself plenty of time to savor and enjoy it.

Many thanks to Net Galley for providing a copy of this book for review.
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Really loved this mystery - fans of the first in the series will be pleased!  Though really, I don't think it's necessary to have read the first to enjoy the second.  Aside from the main character, there aren't any other overlapping people between the two that I can remember.  This book has you convinced throughout that everyone is guilty, then turns you to thinking no one is guilty, then brings you back around.
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So freaking good!  Jane Harper is a rockstar when it comes to mysteries and I cannot wait to read what else she comes out with!
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The employees of Bailey Tennants are sent out to on a corporate retreat that takes them into the Austrailian bushland.  The men set off in one group and the women go off in another group.  The weekend is a challenging one but something has gone terribly awry when the women's group finally returns to the lodge, but missing one of their members.  Federal Agent Aaron Falk and his colleague, Carmen, are called in to help the search because they have been investigating Bailey Tennants and the night before Alice had called him.  Now she is missing.    Each of the remaining women tells their own version of the weekend's events and each of them tells a different version of events. One of them knows more than they are telling.   Jill Bailey runs the firm with her brother.  Lauren is an old friend of Alice's from school and their teen daughters go to the same school. And there are twins, Bree and Beth.  Beth has a record and is on probation.  Any kind of trouble could send her back to jail. One of these women knows what happened to Alice.  Will they speak the truth before it is too late?

Force of Nature was one of those mystery novels with a plot that left me saying "Why didn't I think of  that?"   I love the corporate theme of this book.  I didn't like how the author divided them up into "boys" and "girls" as if they were in junior high, but it lent to the suspense of the novel.  Five women out wandering in the bush?  It was hard to like any of the five women. They all had that aggressive "Type A" personality or were afraid to stand up for themselves because of past transgressions.  I think my favorite character was Aaron Falk, the agent.  This was not the first time I had met Agent Falk.  He was featured in the author's first book, The Dry.  The end was not really a surprise, but I was glad to see that everybody got some degree of closure. - CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS   And just like the first book, the natural beauty of Austrailia is also very much a character.  The dangerous beauty is part of every single page.

Bottom Line - Force of Nature was another incredible mystery by Jane Harper.  I look forward to seeing what she has up her sleeve for her next book!

Force of Nature by Jane Harper
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Pages: 320
Publisher: Flatiron
Publication Date: 2/6/18
Buy it Here!
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Great book. I enjoyed it and I will post a good review soon..
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I wish I could be a character within Jane Harper’s stories because I am so in love with Aaron Falk. *Insert: Eye Heart Emoji*

Force of Nature was a read as a buddy ready with my girl Megan over at Coffee By the Novel. We also read The Dry together when it first came out. .

Looking back at reading The Dry, we loved it. Everything about it had us completely captured. I felt the same way with Force of Nature. Looking at the two novels, they do go together in developing Falk’s character but could be read as stand alones. I do not suggest this however. I love getting to know a characters full background before jumping ahead.

The ending was perfectly twisted in it’s own way separated from the rest of the book. Reading this novel beginning to end, I was totally engrossed with Harper’s writing. But that ending!? Woah! I did not expect that in any way. Nor did I expect who the culprit was. I thought for sure I had everyone pegged for who they truly were but I was incredibly wrong!

For me, novels that are written this way are my absolute favorite. I don’t mind the predictable stories but I have way more fun and are more in tune with the novel instead!

If you have not picked up either of these books, do so now. These two are high on my recommendation list!

For those of you who have read this, how excited were you about the duo at the end? I was ecstatic! And more importantly hope they both rollover into the next book!

Thank you to NetGalley, Jane Harper and Flatiron books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review!
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I struggled to get into this book. I felt such a connection to Jane Harper's first novel, which made me eager to read this next one. It may not have been a good time for me to read it, but I just didn't feel much of a connection to this novel. I may need to give it another chance at a later date, I think Harper's writing style and premise are worth the read.
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I really enjoyed The Dry  by Jane Harper, and was concerned this second book wouldn't live up to my expectations.  But I loved this book as well and am looking forward to the next one.  Harper's writing is excellent.  She is great at creating the place, creating the atmosphere.  This book is creepy.  She describes the characters so that I feel I understand them.  They make sense, their actions and motivations make sense.  Aaron Falk's character is wonderful.  Since he was so personally involved in the first book, I was worried that I wouldn't like him as much in a "regular" mystery, but I did.
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Long-buried secrets and tiny clues ultimately wash clean with the rain during a missing person mystery set in Australia’s remote (fictional) Giralang Ranges. Federal Police Agents Carmen Cooper and Aaron Falk are called into the wilderness to find Alice, who has gone missing during a corporate retreat. Alice is the Federal Police’s confidential informant for an ongoing financial investigation of BaileyTennants, the company on retreat. 

While corporate retreats are designed to move people out of their comfort zones, the characters here stumble through a series of increasingly complicated situations. Each of the five women gone walkabout carries emotional baggage and unresolved rivalries (professional and personal) from “real” life. They’re set loose in the wilderness without a guide, and when things go wrong, a major search-and-rescue effort ensues.

The writing here is smart, suspenseful, and concise, with plot twists sharper than a snakebite. Good character snapshots overall, but the novel would benefit from more romantic tension between Agents Falk and Cooper (hinted at but not fully realized). The retreat participants split into male/female teams, and are sent off on different trails. The book doesn’t dive very deep into the dynamics of the men’s group, even if one of them might be implicated in Alice’s disappearance. My favorite character is Beth (lowest-person on the corporate ladder) whose personal demons require daily, hourly strength and reckoning. She’s a survivor, and not easily broken by the stress of being lost in the wild. 

The detective work and premise are alluring, yet I yearned for more specifically Australian details. Where are the Vegemite sandwiches, tea from a billy, or bushcraft skills? Where are Aboriginal dreamtime myths, or idioms that ring absolutely of the Land Down Under? In an era of continued globalization of culture, it would be refreshing to dive deeper into the unique, distinct voices of this region. More than a mere single mention of “the scent of damp eucalyptus” or “somewhere deep the bush, invisible kookaburras laughed and screamed.” I want to count all the ways that this setting is unique, and dangerous, and elemental. In the era of #MeToo, I want to read more about the sexual politics hinted at both within the BaileyTennants company and between the Federal Agents.

Jane Harper delivers a cleverly layered psychological thriller, on the heels of her debut novel THE DRY, which also features Detective Aaron Falk and has won scads of literary prizes. Can’t wait to read whatever comes next.
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The following review appeared on my blog ( on 3.23.18:

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 Dry—Jane 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:  B

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG-13 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!
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