Force Of Nature is a thriller set in the fictional Australian Giralang Rainforest Ranges, an area several hours’ drive from Melbourne.
A group of five woman take part in an outward-bound adventure/survival weekend, but they become lost, and only four find their way back to safety. With dense foliage, Australian wildlife and no phone signal, their situation quickly spirals out of control.
Harper’s writing strength is in descriptions of the settings and well-built characters. I really felt I was there in the dripping rain, feeling the cold and fear of the women as they realised that they were lost.
The chapters alternate between the current rescue operation for the last woman, and scenes that lead up to the moment when only four people found their way out of the forest. As the story evolves, Harper successfully builds the backstory and the tension, with several twists and turns.
After reading both The Dry and The Lost Man this setting was a good contrast to the arid deserts of the other books which I like so much, but the story still worked well. Overall a mild thriller with some wonderful backdrops.
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Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along a muddy track.
Only four come out on the other side.
The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and encourage teamwork and resilience. At least, that’s what the corporate retreat website advertises.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker, Alice Russell. Because Alice knew secrets, about the company she worked for and the people she worked with.
The four returning women tell Falk a tale of fear, violence and fractured trust during their days in the remote Australian bushland. And as Falk delves into the disappearance of Alice, he begins to suspect some dangers ran far deeper than anyone knew.