Force of Nature by Jane Harper

This is the follow-up to Jane Harper’s excellent first novel, The Dry, and features detective Aaron Falk. 

I found this one more like an Agatha Christie mystery set in the Australian rain forest. Five women go walkabout, four come back. Whodunnit? In alternating chapters, we follow the story from the point of view of the police investigation and of the five women involved in a team building trek through the bush.

Jane Harper has thrown the lot at this one, I had trouble keeping up with who was doing what to whom and why. Five women who work together in a firm of accountants, one of them a whistle blower who is being pressured by Falk to get the dirt on the company, another a member of the family that owns the company, set off into the Australian rain forest for no really satisfactory reason. Their male colleagues do the same but in a separate group of which we then hear little. The relationships between the women are tested to the limit as a series of disasters befalls them – they get lost, one gets bitten by a snake, they run out of food and water and one of them dies.

A few red herrings are knocking about.

I found it lightweight compared to The Dry and, although all fiction is contrived, I found this tried a bit too hard to fit some square pegs in round holes. An unsatisfactory follow up to an excellent debut novel.