Force of Nature by Jane Harper #BookReview

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Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.

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I had a chance to read this novel via a free app that gives everyone access to 50 Dutch novels in different genres (children’s and adult) in July and August, and I heard so much about Jane Harper’s books and the marvellous Australian setting, that this was the first title I absolutely wanted to read.

I don’t know if my reading experience was influenced a litte because I (had to) read this novel in Dutch and that I not only missed the eloquence and the lovely descriptions in English but also felt it missed a bit of schwung, especially from the investigators’ side. I was more captivated by the women bitching to each other, even though they got me a bit worked up too with their nasty behaviour.

The missing person mystery performed a true balancing act in my head. One minute I was convinced Alice was dead, but the next I found a reason to believe she might be very well alive somewhere. Did her disappearance have anything to do with those documents of the accounting firm she works at? Did someone hold a grudge against her (a serious one)? Let’s face it, she’s definitely not the most likeable person of the bunch. OK that’s an understatement, not in a million years would I be friends with her. But honestly, none of the women were very likeable or kind for each other and for that alone I could easily imagine any one of them killing her. I wished I could care more but I just wanted to know, it wasn’t that I was still crossing my fingers that she wasn’t dead. What kind of a bad person did I turn into?

I’m afraid I had all sorts of scenarios going on in my head but when push came to shove, it just wasn’t as complex or layered as it could have been and I was a little disappointed when I heard the truth. I expected a big bang there and to be hit pretty good with lots of drama, revenge etc. and there was some build up of tension and possible danger but the potential bomb was disfused before it could go off.

I do not regret reading this story, it kept me guessing well enough, but I guess I had high expectations and they weren’t really met in this novel.

I read a free ecopy of this novel in Dutch through the app Vakantiebieb. This is my honest opinon.

36 thoughts on “Force of Nature by Jane Harper #BookReview

  1. Ah dang Inge! Maybe the translation lost some beauty of the writing indeed. That’s why I never read books translated in French as I often think they are missing a little something…. Anyway no you are not a bad person LOL

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      • Oh yes, reading it in English does sound better! I tend to dislike Dutch translations in general and only struggle through one Dutch book a year to try and keep up the knowledge. xD I’m really curious to see how I’ll react to Force Of Nature now! You are not the first to be disappointed by the sequel.

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  2. I was sorry to read that this one didn’t quite meet expectation, for you, Inge. It is the weakest of her three books and, maybe something, as you say, was lost in translation. I do hope you give The Dry and or The Lost Man a go at some point, I think you’ll like them better.

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  3. I enjoyed ‘The Dry’ and in particular the Australian setting. It was so well described, I almost felt I was there. Since I have seen several lukewarm reviews, I decided not to pick up ‘Force of Nature’. A shame it couldn’t live up to the first one.

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  4. Premature explosions are always a disappointment! (sorry, I couldn’t help myself! haha) – I totally get what you mean in this review and especially as you had so many potential threads the story could have gone it, you were probably left wondering about all those missed opportunities… Sorry this one didn’t hit the mark for you!

    Liked by 1 person

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