How well do you really know your co-workers?
That’s the question Jane Harper asks in her new novel, Force of Nature, a worthy follow-up to her bestselling 2017 debut, The Dry.
Set again in Australia, Agent Aaron Falk of the Federal Police desperately searches for a woman named Alice Russell, who vanished after heading out with three co-workers from her accounting firm on a team-building exercise deep in the Giralang Ranges outside of Melbourne. Falk, along with his partner, Carmen Cooper, specializes in financial crimes, but take on the missing person case because Alice had been working with them by helping to provide criminally damaging information about her boss, Daniel Bailey.
She’s the all-important whistle-blower, and without her, their case is dead in the water.
A partial message from Alice adds to Falk’s fear that the woman was disappeared by her co-workers because of her role in helping to incriminate Bailey. But in order to prove that theory — and to continue building their case against him — Falk and Cooper must find her before it’s too late. Doing so proves to be extremely challenging, though, especially when comparing statements from the returning three co-workers. Each seems to offer a slightly different take on what happened, and the more Falk learns about each of them, the more motives he uncovers for why someone might want Alice Russel to vanish.
Adding to the all-out creepiness of the situation is the fact that Alice went missing in the same area that Martin Kovac, a brutal serial killer, used to dump his victims’ bodies some twenty years prior. Though he’s now dead, Kovac’s history seems to haunt the Giralang Ranges. . . he may not be responsible for Alice’s disappearance, but his presence is surely felt as past events still haunt in the present day.
Harper’s writing style is hypnotic, and if there was ever any doubt as to whether or not she’d be able to carry on the success of her critically-acclaimed debut novel, she silences doubters in a big way with this book. Force of Nature is beautifully written, and features a hair-raising plot that’ll have readers questioning how well they really know those around them. Harper’s character development continues to be her strength, but her well-rounded skill set is on full display throughout. Some seasoned readers might guess the twists and reveals before they occur, but most won’t know what’s really going on until Harper peels the curtain back all the way.
Force of Nature is perfect for fans of C.J. Box and Lisa Gardner. . . but beware, once you finish this book and experience the conflict and secret-keeping practices between colleagues, you’ll likely never look at your own co-workers quite the same ever again.
Author: Jane Harper
Series: Aaron Falk #2
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.