We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

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Mike Jarman

A company team building retreat on a remote forest trail is the setting for this book. On the surface, it’s just the men vs women as the two work groups set off to cover separate trails laid out by an adventure company. However, whilst all the men return, one woman remains missing after the rest of her group stagger out of the forest dehydrated and traumatised after getting lost.

The book tells the story in two intermingled strands. The first being the current search and investigation by the police for the woman and the second what actually happened to the group during their time in the forest.

I found the book slow at first with the main police character irrelevant to the story. I can only think that in the author’s first book, he was the main character and she needed a hook to get people to buy her book. After nearly giving up, the book suddenly takes off as the story of what really happened in the forest is revealed. This, along with the intermingled politics and power of the people involved, is fleshed-out, and turns the book into a good read. Worth sticking with to the end.

Liz Wilde

This story, set in Australia pulls the reader straight into the action, then backtracks following a hazardous path, both the subject of the story, and the way the story is written, making it difficult for the reader to put the book down because the journey is compulsive. Falk and Carmen, investigating suspicions into an accountancy company’s money laundering provide a framework for the tale to unravel having a spy called Alice in the firm whom they hope will find useful evidence.

The firm organises a team-building trek into rough, wooded and remote countryside. The story concentrates on five women of whom Alice is one. Alice is not popular being a sharp-tongued, hardnosed businessperson. The other four, Lauren, Beth, Bree and Jill all have an axe to grind. As the five women proceed down the rough country track in the windy cold weather without any phone, signal or food they meet life-threatening difficulties in the terrain. There is great psychological interaction and revelations between the women. Increasing the tension, historically, there was a convicted murderer and now rumours of his son in the area. Then Alice disappears.

Roberta Doctor

The novel, “Force of Nature” by Jane Harper, sets a group of people on a corporate team building retreat, in the in the inhospitable Australian bush, unusually in a cold and wet winter; the damp seeped out of the pages of the book until I could almost believe I was there too, chilled physically and mentally.

I was intrigued by the relationships between the principal characters; information was drip fed as the plot developed. Right from the outset, I was asking questions about them and their actions and this continued right to the end of this fast paced whodunit – or was it a whodunit, or even a wasitdunatall? I found that I was examining each carefully drawn character that Jane Harper introduced, in case he/she was more than just a general member of the cast of characters.

The involvement of federal agents Aaron Falk and Carmen Cooper and their shadowy superiors with their “get the contract” demands lifts the tension a notch further.

Although I have a copy of it, I had not read “The Dry” before this, but I definitely will now – and I’ll be looking out for any other books by Jane Harper.

Judith Cranswick

I was immediately drawn in by the opening of the novel – what has happened to Alice? What ‘secrets’ has she told Federal Agent Falk? Why does the name of Alice’s team mate, Jill Bailey raise eyebrows? The build-up of the oppressive Giralang forest closing in on the hikers effectively chills the blood drawing in the reader. As one of those who loves to feel the fear and the wind up of tension, I had hoped this would be a great read.

The book is unquestionably well written, but it had some major failings for me. I found it impossible to empathise with any of the characters. The five lost women are far from likable people and I had to keep looking back to the earlier passage in an attempt to work out who was who. Naming two twin sisters with the same initial - Bree and Beth – is a beginner’s mistake that her editor should have picked up on.

The whole premise of sending five inexperienced, unfit women on a team-building exercise (patently not a team but a mixed group ranging from a back-room girl to one of the company directors) on a challenging three-day hike without any form of back up is hardly credible.

That said, this was a compulsive read that kept me turning the page.

Hilary Hayward

I was really pleased to read this book as the author will now be on my must read list. I will need to purchase her previous book. I usually read crime thrillers by choice, but not all are of this quality. I appreciated the books structure as it meant I always knew which timeline I was in, as soon as a new chapter started. It was also clear which character’s point of view I was seeing things from.

I was hooked from the beginning and pleased when I had a chance to read on. The plot kept me guessing to the end, even whether ‘the victim’ was still alive or not. All the characters were fleshed out and believable. It left you musing over their lives, not just pleased to have come to the mystery’s explanation.

Ceridwen Howell

From start to finish this is an exciting well-paced read of a corporate executive team building adventure for Baileytennants employees that goes horribly wrong…

”Five went out, four came back…”

The story moves cleverly between the present day and the search led by Aaron Falk (first introduced in The Dry) as the police officer from the financial investigation unit for the missing woman (Alice), and the past slow tale of the team-building expedition through the rugged Australian bush land of the Giralang Ranges leading to the disappearance of Alice, while filling the reader in on the other women’s backstories.

Imagine “Lord of the flies” but with grown women instead of schoolboys and you capture the essence of the novel, which is best read sitting on a Viking sundeck I promise you will not want to put the book down!

Glynis Blaber

Beware the corporate team building experience! Jane Harpers' second novel Force of Nature featuring police officer Aaron Falk has as many turns and twists as the Australian bush in which it is set.

Five women, employees of a respected city company, enter the Giralong Ranges only four exit. Did Alice get lost? Why is Falk, who works in fraud, involved in the search? What is the history of the five women? Is the son of a murderer from the area involved? Are the directors of the company all they seem?

Many questions are posed in this novel, which moves in time between the group of women as they experience camping and trekking in the bush and the search teams.

A strong sense of place permeates the novel but as the environment becomes more hostile and threatening so the relationship between the characters becomes increasingly toxic.

I thoroughly recommend this well-crafted novel - but if you are about to go on a similar exercise maybe read it when you return!

Alison Melville

I was reluctant to put this book down, and read it in two days. The plot is well structured and suspenseful and the reader is soon drawn into the story. The book alternates between the present day search for Alice, and flashbacks leading up to her disappearance. Each chapter ends on a tantalising note, leaving the reader wanting to know more. Each little snippet of information leads the reader on a different path.

Relationships between family, friends and colleagues are a key issue in the novel, and make for an interesting read. The dense, hostile setting of the wild gives a sense of claustrophobia, paralleled with the deteriorating relationships between the women's group, as they are forced to stay together to increase their chance of being found.

This was my first introduction to the author Jane Harper, and I will certainly be reading more of her work.