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.
Police officer Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing walker. 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.
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.
'I loved The Dry. Force of Nature is even better. Brilliantly paced, it wrong-foots the reader like a rocky trail through the bush. I adored it' Susie Steiner
'Lord of the Flies in the Australian outback, with grown women in place of school boys. I loved every chilling moment of it. A blistering follow-up to The Dry from one of the best new voices in crime fiction' Sarah Hilary
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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Harper is the author of The Dry, winner of various awards including the 2015 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, the 2017 Indie Award Book of the Year, the 2017 Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year Award and the CWA Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of 2017. 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.
Another superb thriller by the author of The Dry * The Lady * [A] well constructed mystery that's suitably atmospheric with fine descriptions of the Australian bush * Choice magazine * Harper's tough but mild-mannered detective Aaron Falk returns for a second outing . . . Flitting between descriptions of Falk's investigation and an account of Alice and her colleagues' adventures before her disappearance, Harper has produced another humdinger of a thriller -- Charlotte Heathcote * Sunday Express * Jane Harper brings a potent outsider's eye once again to the uncanniness of the Australian bush . . . Like The Dry, this is a deftly assembled and cleverly paced novel, the characters skillfully and nimbly drawn . . . It's stirring to see a writer racing out of the traps with such confidence and storytelling flair. -- Alasdair Lees * Independent * Harper has proved once again that she is a master of the thriller genre. Highly, highly recommended * Watford Observer * With consummate skill, Harper alternates between Falk's investigation and an account of what happened to the five women on their hike, as they rapidly find that the natural world is out to get them and their relations with each other deteriorate . . . Harper has a fine gift for making her readers comfortable in inhospitable territory - psychological as well as physical -- Jake Kerridge * Daily Telegraph * [The Dry] was a superbly riveting demonstration of intelligent crime writing, and its successor, Force of Nature, provides further proof: Jane Harper knows all there is to know about detonating the gut-level shocks of a great thriller....There's a distinct Liane Moriarty vibe to Force of Nature...but with a sharper edge. Jane Harper's brilliance in characterisation and evocative prose is on full display here...In a crowded market, Jane Harper shines at the quality end....Force of Nature is masterfully paced, wonderfully rendered, and devastatingly entertaining * Simon Macdonald, Potts Point Bookshop, Sydney * Harper's mastery of pace makes Force Of Nature one of 2017's best thrillers * Elle Australia * The narrative is finely constructed, with perfectly measured pace and suspense. So much so that it reminded me of another master of form, Liane Moriarty...Harper has also harnessed what captivates the Australian psyche - the landscape. The Dry is set in a small country town in drought, and this time she takes us into the bush. There are echoes of Picnic at Hanging Rock and Lord of the Flies as any appearance of civility slips away and the women lose direction in a hostile landscape. So does Harper's new book live up to the first? I was thrilled to find that it does. The novel delivers and Harper writes like a dream * The Saturday Paper, Australia * As thick with menace as the bush that seems to swallow the difficult Alice...Force of Nature cuts between past and present, corporate and domestic, and cements its author as one of Australia's boldest thriller writers * Australian Women's Weekly * Force of Nature proves Jane Harper, author of The Dry, is no one-hit wonder. Its premise is instantly gripping * Herald Sun (Melbourne) * Once again, Harper manages to touch on something mythic in the Australian experience of the land...From Frederic McCubbin's mournful painting...Lost, to Joan Lindsay's Picnic at Hanging Rock...getting lost in the bush was for a while every non-Indigenous Australian's worst nightmare. Force of Nature plays on this fear and then some. Ratcheting up the sense of threat is the shade of a notorious serial killer lurking in the undergrowth * Sydney Morning Herald * A gripping tale of an elemental battle for survival...Harper once again shows herself to be a storytelling force to be reckoned with * Publishers Weekly * Harper's crackerjack plotting propels the story...Harper layers her story with hidden depths, expertly mining the distrust between Alice and her four colleagues, and the secrets that simmer under the surface...A spooky, compelling read * Kirkus * Riveting, tension-driven thriller...Perfect for fans of Tana French and readers who enjoy literary page-turners * Booklist, starred review * The Dry was one of the standout crime debuts of 2017; Australian author Harper follows it with a story of women hiking in the bush - five go out, but only four come back * Guardian, Books of 2018 * Harper's debut, The Dry, was The Sunday Times crime novel of 2017 and won the CWA Gold Dagger award. That makes this second outing from the Australian a very hot ticket indeed * Sunday Times, Books of 2018 * A major voice in contemporary fiction. Like Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series and Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie novels, Jane Harper's deftly plotted mysteries double as sensitive inquiries into human nature, behavior, and psychology. And like The Dry, Force of Nature bristles with wit; it crackles with suspense; it radiates atmosphere. An astonishing book from an astonishing writer * A.J. Finn, bestselling author of The Woman in the Window * Lord of the Flies in the Australian outback, with grown women in place of school boys. I loved every chilling moment of it. A blistering follow-up to The Dry from one of the best new voices in crime fiction * Sarah Hilary, author of the bestselling DI Marnie Rome series * I loved The Dry by Jane Harper, I thought it was magnificent, like everybody else did...Fabulous! And her new book Force of Nature...such brilliance. From the first paragraph I was hooked - you just know you're in the hands of a master. She's such an excellent writer and the sense of place is so powerful * Marian Keyes * I loved The Dry. Force of Nature is even better. Brilliantly paced, it wrong-foots the reader like a rocky trail through the bush. I adored it * Susie Steiner, bestselling author of Missing, Presumed and Persons Unknown * That all-important 'difficult' second novel? Jane Harper has smashed it in spades...Her astonishing first book, The Dry, a sizzlingly tense murder drama set during the Aussie drought, picked up maximum stars in this column last year - but we'll have to empty the star drawer for this one...Throw in a serial killer in the area and you've got a netful of red herrings to sift through before you get to the clever and nerve-jangly ending * Weekend Sport * We cancelled all our plans when we heard the brilliant Jane Harper was bringing out a follow-up to her fab crime novel The Dry. And we're glad we did, because Force Of Nature is every bit as gripping as its predecessor. . . Don't miss it * NEW magazine * A gripping follow-up to her debut, The Dry * Good Housekeeping, Three Thrillers We Love * A three-day team-building hike in the Australian bush ends in disaster when the unpleasant Alice Russell disappears. Throw in a serial killer, industrial espionage, and several unreliable narrators and you have a tense thriller that made me feel good about my decision never to go camping * Red magazine * Jane Harper's The Dry was a publisher's dream: a critically acclaimed debut novel that became an immediate best seller. Force of Nature is her follow-up, and it arrives without a trace of sophomore slump; if anything it is a better novel than its predecessor...While the plot unfolds at an expertly controlled pace and is resolved in a satisfyingly ambiguous fashion, it is the relationships between the women that drive the novel...thoughtful, moving, troubling * Irish Times * Force of Nature is Jane Harper's eagerly awaited follow-up to her debut novel The Dry, an international bestseller that has won a string of awards....Harper's writing style has no frills but it is clear and beautifully paced. It makes the bushland come alive and the sense of the wilderness closing in is tangible...This thriller will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and leave you gripped to the final page * Daily Express * The delight of this spell-bindingly suspenseful thriller lies in the slow revelation of what really happened to the missing woman...This follow-up novel shows Harper is a crime-writing force to be reckoned with * Sunday Mirror * Jane Harper has high literary credentials - her debut novel, The Dry, one of the big hits of last year, matched critical acclaim with bestselling sales figures. This second novel is just as good...Landscape is a sinister presence in Harper's novels and here it takes on a powerfully disruptive, psychological force...Harper creates an atmosphere of stifling claustrophobia as the novel inexorably telescopes in...This is that rare thing, a whodunnit where the writing is as satisfying as the thrills * Metro * Once again Harper leaves you gagging to know who did what. Once again there are plenty of suspects * Evening Standard * Jane Harper is more from the Patricia Highsmith and Donna Tartt school of mystery: elegant, intelligent and not for the faint-hearted...As chapters swap between the tense outward-bound weekend (where self-hatred, fear and resentment jostle for position) and its subsequent investigation, Harper creates a claustrophobic page-turner that conjures up that other great Australian mystery, Joan Lindsay's Picnic At Hanging Rock * Emerald St * Powerful, intriguing and recommended...Harper is wonderful at evoking fear and unease, and she draws a mesmeric picture of the terrifying Australian terrain * The Times * 'The most exciting emerging novelist of the last 12 months...As gripping, atmospheric and ingeniously plotted as The Dry, it places Harper in the elevated company of the authors she most admires: Val McDermid, Gillian Flynn and Lee Child * Mail on Sunday * Jane Harper, the new Queen of Crime...Even more impressive than The Dry...Harper makes it look easy but she has to pace two narratives without giving too much away, creating an almost unbearable level of suspense...Nature is a hostile, unpredictable force in both of Harper's novels, but her brilliance lies in making it into a test of horribly fallible human nature * The Sunday Times *