Blog Tour: Force of Nature by Jane Harper

“Later, the four remaining women could fully agree on only two things. One: No-one saw the bushland swallow up Alice Russell. And two: Alice had a mean streak so hard it could cut you.”

Five women set off on a team-building exercise and only four come back, but no one can agree on what exactly happened to Alice.

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Regular readers of my blog will know that I love a good crime / mystery novel and Force of Nature ticked all the boxes. What I really liked about this novel was the premise: I don’t think I have ever read a crime novel based on a murder amongst a group of work colleagues. It added an interesting dynamic to the story and really sucked me in.

Jane sets her book in the hard landscape of the Giralong Ranges, a harsh, unforgiving landscape with next to no phone signal and a hideous reputation: it was the site of a series of murders committed by Martin Kovac, and there are rumours Alice’s disappearance might be linked to these old murders. The Giralong Ranges are wild, remote and so well-described that you feel the loneliness and the isolation the group must have felt. The setting heightens the tension in the group and exacerbates the problems that were already there.

Alice is an intensely dislikeable character from the start, and it’s possible to imagine scenarios where every person she encounters would want to make her disappear, and all those on the trip with her certainly have motive. Everyone on the trip has their own personal issues which are explored alongside Alice’s disappearance. These issues are revealed to us slowly, as the story of Alice’s disappearance is told to us in the present time, with chapters telling the story of the of the team-building exercise. This adds some serious tension. I kept turning the pages and not wanting to put the book down until I found out who did it.

I could never have guessed what had happened to Alice or who was responsible for it, but I will be rereading Force of Nature to see if I can pick up the clues second time around!

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