Force Of Nature by Jane Harper ** Blog Tour Review**
Jane Harper's second novel, Force of Nature was published in the UK on 8th February 2018 and I am delighted to feature it on my blog today. I reviewed her debut novel, The Dry, and thought that it deserved all the praise it received. You can read my review here. Has Jane been able to match it? Yes, I think she has!
Where did Alice Russell go?
Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice's welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.
Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.
The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their airconditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.
Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case - and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.
It is quite difficult to write about Force of Nature without sounding over- effusive but it really is that good. It crackles with the heat of the Australian Outback and the setting is so effectively used to emphasise the women's isolation in the inhospitable conditions. Taken right out of their comfort zones, removed from the hierarchy of their work, you see the barriers between them crack as they struggle to survive. Physically lost and adrift from home, they are also mentally isolated. You share the sense of suspicion and lack of trust as their ordeal unravels. The author manages to convey a sense of claustrophobia in their predicament, as they stick together, ironically given the open expanse which surrounds them.
I particularly enjoyed the structure of the book. You know from the start that something has happened to Alice and the narrative goes back and forward in time so that you begin to pick up on what was happening in their everyday lives. Just as you think that you are onto the truth, you realise that you have been 'sold a pup' and the story takes a different turn, just like the women as they wander lost in the bush. You feel that you get to know each of them as they are pushed to the edge and a whiff of feral behaviour begins to appear. Not to forget the Federal Agent, Falk, who has his own agenda and ghosts to lay. It was great to meet up with him again after The Dry and to learn more about him. I am sure that Force of Nature will win many accolades, just as its predecessor did before it.
In short: suspicion, secrets and suspense by the bucketload.
About the Author
Jane Harper is the author of The Dry, winner of various awards including the 2015 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, the 2017 Indie Award Book of the Year and the 2017 Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year Award. Rights have been sold in 27 territories worldwide, and film rights optioned to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea. Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne. Force of Nature is Jane’s second novel.
Thanks to Jane Harper and Kimberley Nyamhondera of Little, Brown Book Group for a copy of the book and a place on the tour.
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