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Summary

The gripping new novel from the author of the Sunday Times top 10 best seller, Waterstones Thriller of the Month, Sunday Times Crime Book of the Month, and Simon Mayo Radio 2 Book Club Choice The Dry.

Five went out. Four came back....

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 air-conditioned 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 whistle-blower in his latest case - and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.

©2018 Jane Harper (P)2018 Little, Brown Book Group

Critic reviews

"The new queen of crime." ( Sunday Times)

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Average customer ratings

Overall

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

More a Gentle Push of Nature

After the extremely highly rated The Dry Jane Harper's follow-up is more of a gentle push of nature than a genuine force. Harper does write well but this is a tried and trusted plot albeit with some neat contemporary twists. It does develop slowly though and this slow pace is not improved by the narration. Stephen Shanahan's accent does of course add authenticity and he actually carries the narrative very well. However a voice actor he is not and it wasn't even always possible to tell a female character from a male. Given that the majority of the characters are indeed women this is a serious disadvantage. It's not often I say this but I might have enjoyed this a little more as a physical rather than audio book. So a decent enough story coupled with narration that could have been improved on.

16 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Alice is missing!

This is Jane Harpers's follow-up to her very successful novel The Dry (reviewed here by me last year).

Five female colleagues are on a break from the office on a bonding team-and-resilience-building hike in the wilds of the Guralong Ranges near Melbourne. But it has all gone terrifyingly wrong: they're lost. There's no signal on the mobile and the single torch has a fading battery. We know only four of the women will return.

Harper is excellent on the mounting vitriol between the women the reasons for which are explored in the alternating chapters as the narrative flips between present and past, notching up tension and suspense as well as explaining the resentment concerning Lauren and Alice's children, and Beth's past as an addict. After an explosion of violence, Alice goes missing just where a hiker had been murdered years before...

It's a great listen - Harper creates the forbidding and dangerous Australian terrain brilliantly and suspense is taut. There's another strand to the story involving Alice as the whistle-blower in the business the women work for. It is not very convincing and merely distracts. The whole would have been more powerful without it.

The great narration accentuates the rough toughness of the story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Gripping

Another superb novel from Jane Harper, even better than the previous one ‘The Dry’. Great plot, lots of twists, lots of intrigue, well written and well read. Again, her use of setting is key to the story and so well evoked. All the characters are well drawn and the dialogue spot on. I hope there will be more.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful Voice

What did you like most about Force of Nature?

Fabulous setting, fabulous characters, and I could listen to the reader's voice forever.

What did you like best about this story?

Australia.

What does Stephen Shanahan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Perfect voice and subtle acting. Wonderful.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It's tense, perhaps not tense enough, but tense.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Lord of the Flies goes company team-building

Almost as good as The Dry. Good to see some well rounded and diverse female characters. Excellent narration. More please.

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A bit slow.

its a good sequel to the Dry but a little slow in the storyline and a bit disappointing in the ending.

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  • Jo
  • 22-03-18

Engaging story, but perhaps better to read this book rather than listen to it?

I had immensely enjoyed reading The Dry by Jane Harper, so I was delighted when I saw that Force of Nature was available as an audio book. It’s an interesting story, told from multiple points of view, and a time line that jumps about gradually revealing the plot and motivation of the different characters. While this could work very well as text I’m not sure it works so well when listening. I got confused many times between the voices of the different characters, and where we were in the time line, which resulted in me having to rewind the audio multiple times to try and make sense of it. The narrator has a delightful voice, very laconic and easy to listen to, but with multiple female lead characters the lack of nuance in his voice made it very difficult to discern who was speaking. I do think that in this case it would have been better to have a female narrator. In saying all that, it’s a great story, and Harper’s description of theAustralian bush is just as vivid and brooding as it was in The Dry. Almost as if the bush is a character itself. I just wish I had chosen to read this book rather than listen.

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Reasonable Read

Enjoyed the story, but was far to simple and felt rushed to conclude. Characters were not deep enough. A bit to cursory.

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Slow burner, slightly disappointing

As a fan of Jane Harper's debut novel The Dry, this definitely felt like a sub-par sequel. Detective Aaron Falks returns with another case in the Australian wilderness, this time following the disappearance of a woman who went on a work retreat in the outback but never came back.

Four of the women who went with her all have motives to want to see her gone, so Falks attempts to understand what secrets she may have had about them.

The story, as described, felt underwhelming even though I appreciate the straightforward simplicity of Harper's writing. There is no massive conspiracy similar to the first but it may have lacked too much in this instance.

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Too many subplots.

I loved The Dry but found this disappointing. My mind kept wandering and I struggled to get back into the story. It was a bit predictable that the story was woven around women bitching once put together in a complex situation. Sorry - can't recommend it.

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  • K.
  • 10-03-18

Nowhere near as good as The Dry

The Dry was one of my favorite books when it came out. I was really looking forward to Jane Harper's latest book, but it was a real disappointment.

The bickering among the female characters was not only irritating, but it made each of them so unlikeable, you really didn't care what happened to any of them.

Not enough about Aaron Falk and Carmen, who at least have an interesting dynamic with each other.

I also found the whole hiking narrative b-o-r-i-n-g. (Yawn!) If I had been reading this instead of listening to it, I would not have made it to the end.

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  • Aino Shperber
  • 21-02-18

Great follow up!!

Loved the first book and this is also very good. Creepy, great characters that seem so real, various and interesting story lines. Can't wait to hear from this author.