It can be hard to live up to the success of a multi-award-winning debut novel but Jane Harper has certainly met, if not exceeded, expectations with Force of Nature.
Fans of The Dry will be pleased to see the return of not only Harper but also Federal Agent Aaron Falk. Six months on from the Hadler murders, he is back at work and finds himself drawn into a complicated case. After five women head into the bush for a team building exercise and only four emerge on the other side, everyone is asking what happened to Alice Russell, especially Falk, who is relying on Russell for vital evidence in a whistle-blowing case.
It says a lot about Harper’s writing that she keeps you guessing – and caring about the outcome, especially when the missing person isn’t exactly likeable. In fact, most of the women are flawed and that’s what keeps it interesting, with Harper revealing more about the characters’ backgrounds and home lives as the mystery progresses.
Falk is the highlight for me, as he learns to move on from what happened back in Kiewerra and finally come to terms with the loss of his father. I hope he continues to feature in Harper’s future work.
You don’t have to have read The Dry to enjoy or ‘get’ Force of Nature but it’s a great follow-up and it’s handy to know Falk’s background. You can read my review of The Dry here.