Published February 2018 Little Brown UK
The book that caused me to break my book buying ban when I purchased it on release day. It was signed AND had sprayed pages so what could I do except buy it? To see it in more of its beautiful glory you will need to head on over to my Instagram page! But onto the book… is there anyone out there who doesn’t know what it’s about? Well I’ll tell you now.
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.
Police officer Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing walker. 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 deeper than anyone knew.
Having loved The Dry, Jane Harper’s debut last year and also featuring Aaron Falk this had been one of my 2018 eagerly anticipated reads and thankfully it did not disappoint.
I devoured this book over a couple of days, similar to my previous reading experience of The Dry. I was worried that this book wouldn’t live up to the same standard – the threshold having been set very high. However I loved this book, the plot was terrific, the dreaded work away day – but this time stretched over 4 days and an isolated hike in the Australian outback, with 4 colleagues for company. In this setting Harper created an authentic scenario designed to erode social niceties and bring out the worst in people. This was not a group of friends on a hike, oh no! So when the pressure rose so did the bickering and the backstabbing resulting in a complete fragmentation of this already incohesive group of women.
The 5 female characters, unsurprisingly were largely unlikable, however they were interesting and I was curious to learn their backstories as the plot unfolded. The return of Aaron Falk was welcome and he and his partner Carmen Cooper, under pressure to complete their financial investigation but reliant on Alice for the final pieces of information, involve themselves in the search for the missing woman.
With a theme of relationships there were other dynamics at play in this book which offered interesting subplots, including a contemporary twist.
This second book made me realise how much I enjoy Jane Harper’s writing, the plot was good, the pace fairly slow but much of the story was told over the 4 days hike so this worked well. And then there is the attention to detail, without it being obvious the author describes the environment in a way that makes it come alive for the reader, particularly evident in the scorching heat and parched landscape of The Dry, but also here, where the density of the bush and the sense of cold, dark and wet absorbed me.
Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it highly!