Force of Nature by Jane Harper
I had really high hopes for Force of Nature – from the chilling title to the dramatic cover to the praise it received. I thought the novel would take me no longer than a week to read as I wouldn’t have been able to put it down, in actual fact it took me just over a month to finish it. I felt as though I was constantly waiting for it to get going and the suspension and tension, for me, was too vague and ambiguous therefore I started to lose a bit of interest.
It wasn’t all bad though. The last hundred pages saved the book and was where all the action happened.
Five work colleagues, as part of a team bonding weekend, go into the Australian bush. None of the women partially like each other. There’s Jill Bailey, who’s brother owns the company they work for. Sisters Bree and Beth who on the surface cannot stand each other and the latter is slowing getting her life together after drink and drug problems. There’s Lauren who’s work conscious but it constantly thinking about her anorexic teenage daughter who used to be friends with Alice’s daughter before a big falling out. Alice’s mind is also on her daughter who is the subject of having naked photos posted on the internet supposedly by her ex-boyfriend.
Throughout their weekend there is constant arguing of which route to take, when to stop for food and their personal baggage spills over into the team bonding trip. Following an argument Alice sets off to find her own way back to the lodges and this is where the trouble starts. Lauren chases after Alice and the pair have a huge physical fight about their daughters. Alice hits her head and Lauren leaves Alice, who she believes to be still alive. Bree then goes out to find Alice dead and looks at her bag which has an item marked ‘property of Beth’. To save her sister Bree moves the backpack and removes the item. When Alice doesn’t come back the group go into panic mode.
Woven into the novel is the narrative of the detectives trying to find out what has happened to Alice and the chance that her death might have something to do with the a murderer who has already claimed the lives of three women.
The last hundred pages highlights the social politics of a group of women and the lengths women will go to to defend their family.