Force of Nature

Force of NatureForce of Nature (Aaron Falk, #2) by Jane Harper
Published by Flatiron Books on February 6th 2018
Pages: 326
ISBN: 1250105633
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four-half-stars

Five women go on a hike. Only four return…..

Another great one by Jane Harper! Five people go on a corporate retreat – they are going to hike and camp in the wilderness. They are to leave their cell phones behind and rely on themselves and each other. This is going to be team work at its best! Except, It’s NOT!. The women argue, quibble and are not very pleasant to each other. When they fail to return on time to the agreed upon rendezvous at the end of the retreat, the guides go looking for them. Eventually four of the women are found. The fifth one is missing. All the women have a similar story – similar- but not the same.

Has the tough and unforgiving terrain caused the woman to go missing? Did she make a wrong turn and get lost? This is the same terrain where serial killer, Martin Kovac, lured and killed young women. True, he was captured years ago, but he his legacy haunts the area. Could there be a copycat killer out there? Did he have any offspring? Just where is the missing woman and was foul play involved?

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk (who we met in The Dry) and his partner, Cameron, have a connection to the missing woman. She is their secret informant on a case involving the Bailey Tennants financial firm where she works, and it appears she attempted to call Falk the night she went missing from the retreat. Wasn’t she supposed to leave her cell phone behind?

While Falk and his partner, Cameron try to figure out what happened on this retreat, Falk also wrestles with his past relationship with his father. Like the missing woman, Falk seems a little lost himself in this book. He needs to move on from a past romantic relationship and make peace with his own past, while trying to figure out who, if anyone, is telling the truth and who has something to hide.

As the women are interrogated and the pieces come together, the reader and Falk learn what happened at the same time. The story-line kept me guessing and I did not figure it out. I had my suspicions and just when I thought I had this mystery figured out, Harper threw in a curve ball.

I thought this book was great! Just like in “The Dry”, Harper uses the environment as a main character. This book is atmospheric, and the terrain feels very much alive and the characters are at its mercy. Harper pulls this off seamlessly. I will say that I wanted more Falk. We see more of his personality and personal issues in “The Dry”. I wanted a little more him personally and hopefully we get a little more of “him” in the next book ***please, fingers crossed for another book in this series***

I found this book to be wonderfully written, atmospheric, stimulating, beautifully crafted and full of dread and suspense. Harper does not disappoint, if anything, she knows how to suck the reader in and take them on a journey through the Australian bush, into the mind of her likable investigator and not so likable characters. Could this book be read as a standalone? ABSOLUTELY! But, seriously “The Dry” was fantastic. So, do yourself a favor and read that first!

four-half-stars

The Dry

The DryThe Dry (Aaron Falk, #1) by Jane Harper
Published by Macmillan Australia on May 31st 2016
Pages: 352
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four-half-stars

Shut the Front door!!!! I cannot believe that this is a debut novel!!!!!! I seriously hope this is not a fluke, because this book is brilliant! If this is the beginning of her writing career, I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. I will definitely be reading the next book in this series.

I love mysteries. They are one of my favorite genres. I love putting on my detective hat and super sleuthing while reading. I THOUGHT I had the killer figured out. I was WRONG!! This book was full of twists and turns, revelations, secrets, longing, and of course – heat. Don’t be fooled – heat is also a character in this book. It feels so real, so dry so dusty. It brings out the mean, the nasty, the worst in everyone in this town. There is a terrible drought and their crops and farms are suffering. It’s oppressive and weighs on everyone as they go about their day to day lives.

Aaron Falk, a federal police investigator returns to his hometown of Kiewarra after receiving a message saying “you lied” His childhood friend Luke, his wife and son are dead and it is believed that his childhood friend, Luke killed his wife and son then killed himself. Falk returns to attend the funeral and deal with the message that Luke’s father sent him. His friend’s parents beseech him to help look into the murders. They do not believe that their son killed himself and his family leaving behind his infant daughter. Falk soon joins forces with the local police investigator, Raco who believes that the entire family was murdered but has a hard time coming up with suspects. Together they look at the evidence and everyone who may have had a beef with Luke.

Once in town, Falk is greeted by the intense heat and the heated stares and comments by the townspeople who still believe Falk was responsible for the death of Ellie, a young woman found in the water with stones in her pockets. Since she had written his last name on a piece of paper, Aaron Falk (and also his father) were considered suspects. Luke provided his friend with an alibi but no one ever believed them. Old wounds never heal and Ellie’s family, Mel and Dow Deacon are hell bent on causing as much grief for Falk as they can while he is in town investigating the murders of his friend Luke and his family.

Memories, secrets and suspects haunt Falk during this time. There are several suspects but they all seem to have an alibi for the time in question. Another question – could Ellie’s death and Luke’s families death be related?

I like that I could not guess the killer here. I had a suspect and was WRONG. The twists and turns kept the action moving and my interest peaked. If my suspect was not the killer then who in blazes was? That really is the question isn’t it? Just who was the killer and why.

I will definitely be on the lookout for more books by Harper. This was a pleasure to read.

four-half-stars