Force of Nature
by Harper, Jane

When one member of a five-woman team of co-workers goes missing during a corporate retreat, federal police agent Aaron Falk uncovers dark secrets in his search for the woman, a whistleblower and major contributor to his latest case.

Jane Harper worked as a print journalist for 13 years before writing her first novel, The Dry, a #1 international bestseller. Originally from the UK, Jane lives in Melbourne. Force of Nature is her second novel.

*Starred Review* Melbourne author Harper faced a challenge in equaling the success of her first book, The Dry (2017), which was an award-winning international best-seller; but in this second Aaron Falk novel, she manages to match her debut's intensity with another riveting, tension-driven thriller. The sere landscape of The Dry has been replaced by the damp and dense bush of the Giralang Ranges, where the precious few footpaths have the added menace of a serial killer, who once selected his victims from the paths' female hikers. Now, only four women have returned from a five-woman corporate survival exercise over the rugged terrain, which was meant to test their resilience and enhance teamwork skills. The missing woman, Alice Russell, is the whistle-blower of a money-laundering case that Falk, a Melbourne cop focused on financial crime, has been working on. Has Russell fallen victim to a copycat serial killer or to corporate retribution (all of the other women on the exercise had reason to want her out of the way), or has she simply wandered off track on her own? Falk's partner, Carmen Cooper, is a welcome addition to the series. She manages to nudge Falk out of his self-imposed exile, driven by regrets about the past, and her insights into the anguish and uncertainty of the characters are invaluable. Perfect for fans of Tana French and readers who enjoy literary page-turners. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

A woman goes missing in the Australian wilderness in Harper's (The Dry, 2017) second thriller to feature Agent Aaron Falk of the Federal Police.Falk is still recovering from his last case, and the fire that burned his hand badly, when he gets a call from his new partner, Carmen Cooper, that a woman named Alice Russell has gone missing in the Giralang Ranges three hours outside Melbourne, where she had been taking part in a corporate retreat with her colleagues from the BaileyTennants accountancy firm. This sparks a grim memory for Falk: more than 20 years ago, when the policeman was a teenager, a killer named Martin Kovac littered the same area with the bodies of young women he'd murdered. Kovac couldn't have taken Alice, because he's dead, but her disappearance dredges up some horrific memories in the collective consciousness, which adds a creepy dimension to an increasingly puzzling case. Falk and Cooper don't work missing persons—they're financial investigators, and Alice was helping them with a case on the down low, gathering information on her boss's money matters. Falk can't help worrying that her disappearance might have something do to with the investigation, especially when he realizes he has a garbled message from Alice on his phone. After Falk and Cooper join the search, they discover that Alice's problems with her co-workers went beyond the professional and that tensions ran as deep and wide as the wilderness she's lost in. Harper's crackerjack plotting propels the story, splitting the narrative between Alice and her BaileyTennants co-workers navigating the team-building exercise—and their own secrets—in the days leading up to her disappearance and Falk and Cooper's look into the untoward financial doings of the company's CEO, Daniel Bailey. 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. Lacks some of the s corching momentum of Harper's first book but is nonetheless a spooky, compelling read. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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