“Force of Nature” by Jane Harper


asteriaiconThis was yet another book I had read about online as a highly anticipated book for the year. The story is set in Australia, where a large company, BaileyTennant, has sent 10 staff members on a team building retreat along the Giralang Ranges in the woods. The employees are divided into 2 teams, 5 men and 5 women, with the objective to work together to capture some flags and complete the trail in the three day time span. The men come out ahead of schedule. The women, however, come out 6 hours late, and 1 woman short. Alice apparently has gone missing. Did she take off on her own, or was foul play afoot?

The story plays out in 2 perspectives. One is an account of what really transpired during those three days in the woods.  The other is that of Federal Agent Aaron Falk, a Melbourne Financial Investigator. Alice was going to be a whistle-blower against BaileyTennant. Did someone find out she was going to talk? Were the agents responsible for her untimely disappearance?

The women’s story is clear and scary. They went into the woods and accidentally got lost after following a kangaroo trail far into the woods. It was cold and rainy, and no one could agree on what to do to get back on the trail. All they knew was that Alice wasn’t there when they woke up one morning, but she had been threatening to take off, and the women had no choice but give up looking for her and try to find help, so they stumbled their way through the bush until they made it back to the meeting point.

I found it funny that the plot is around 5 miserable women in the woods …what could possibly go wrong? I work in an office of 20 or so women and it is very clear that this would be all bad! None of us would survive! I did not know this was a sequel, but it was easy to read as a stand-alone. I liked that the ending wasn’t something easily guessed, by me anyway, and it was suspenseful without being gory. It was just a nice simple straight up mystery, and exactly what I wanted!

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