- Megan Bingham
Corporate retreats. They are designed for companies to experience working together in a different, less stressful environment with little-to-no interruptions. It may even enhance company morale. Team retreats allow workers to indulge in tasks that usually don't happen in a normal office environment.
Even if that includes murder.
Australian federal police agent Aaron Falk and his partner Carmen Cooper are called from Melbourne to a remote area in the Giralang Ranges where a hiker has disappeared into the dense wilderness. The missing is Alice Russell, the agents' confidential informant on an ongoing money-laundering investigation inside her Melbourne accounting firm. The team-building expedition includes chief executives of the company they have been working to expose. The women on the hike with Alice all return to base camp hours behind the men, claiming that she had left their shelter in the middle of the night with their one cell phone and flashlight.
As the search for Alice intensifies in the wilderness, Falk and Cooper wonder if anyone on the retreat found out that she was a whistleblower. Alice, although beautiful and intelligent, was irritatingly unrelenting when it came to her co-workers. Could one of them have gotten fed up with her enough to commit a terrible crime? To make matters worse, the area where Alice disappeared was a notorious hunting ground for a long-dead serial killer. No one suspects a dead man of kidnapping, but what about his now-grown son, who knew the ranges just as well as his father, and who hasn't been seen in years? Has Alice fallen prey to a copycat killer, or has she simply wandered off the path alone? Or, is there someone or something more sinister involved—something as sinister as the very wilderness Alice is lost in?
Critically-acclaimed novelist Jane Harper, and author of 2017's bestselling thriller The Dry, displays her talent in storytelling talent again in Force of Nature. Set against the beautiful but bewildering landscape of Australia, Harper presents an intriguing crime full of potential suspects and possible motives. It alternates between the investigation and the results of the team-building hike in the Giralang Ranges. In the end, the two storylines collide like fast-moving freight trains, revealing a fast-paced, gratifying conclusion. Although it starts out slightly slower than The Dry, Force of Nature is a force to be reckoned with. If you like Jane Harper's intense mystery fiction, try titles by Tana French and Fiona Barton. This is the second book in Harper's Agent Falk series.