Have you ever been on one of those god-forsaken team-building exercises? You know the ones. Everyone readily agrees, not because they think it will be fun but because they are worried about how it could hurt their career if they don’t. Whether it is raft building, high wire acrobatics or camping in the wilderness, corporations seem to have a sudden love affair with the art of team bonding and morale-boosting.
BaileyTennants is no different. When CEO Daniel Bailey and his sister Jill, Chairwoman of the company, arrange a camping weekend out at the famous, albeit fictional, inhospitable Giralang Ranges, no one is really that surprised. These ranges are not for the lighthearted; it is rugged, heavily forested and completely wild. It is a place that will push individuals out of their comfort zone, forcing them to work together if they want to come away unscathed.
Splitting into two teams, the females start first on one track with the men following shortly behind. The teams, a mixture of junior and senior employees have from Friday until Sunday lunch-time to navigate the terrain, find their campsites and then the exit where a warm mini-bus will be waiting from them. No phones are allowed, not that it would matter anyway because the chance of gaining a signal in the dense woodland is pretty much impossible, and so there will be no contact with the outside world.
Whilst the male team seems to grasp the concept of team-work, getting to the rendezvous point with time to spare, the females seem to have a few more issues.
Who Makes Up The Female BaileyTennants Team
Jill Bailey hated the idea of being stuck outside in the wilderness. More accustomed to spa treatments than hiking, she really did hate her brother sometimes when he suggested these sorts of activities. However, being a senior partner of the firm, she felt that she didn’t really have a choice and therefore did her very best to embrace the challenge in front of her, even with the heavy pack and the blisters that had started to form within minutes of the activity starting.
Alice Russell, another senior team member is not necessarily the most liked member of the team. Hard-hitting and straight-talking, she doesn’t care who she upsets as long as she gets her way. She is a person who likes to lead from the front, unmovable in her decisions and doesn’t hide the fact that she dislikes some of her team members.
Lauren Shaw makes up the last of the senior team members dragged along because she has had some problems recently both at home and work, resulting in the powers-that-be believing that she could do with some time to reflect and bond in the great outdoors. She may be the same age as Alice, but where her former school friend is decisive, she is most certainly lacking.
Bree and Beth McKenzie may be twins but that is where similarities finish. Bree is career orientated, unforgiving and beautiful. Beth is a reformed drug addict, theft and slightly overweight. Together they work at BaileyTennants but in very different roles – one on a management development plan, the other working in the basement. They may be sisters, but there is very little love between them.
Force of Nature: How The Story Unfold?
Alice has a secret, one that will potentially destroy the company she is working for. The police are investigating the company for money laundering and are using Alice as there inside woman. The aim is for her to provide the police with documents that will highlight just how big this potential crime is with Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk being her contact.
The first hint that she may have been found out comes as a hushed voicemail message to Aaron in the middle of the night where the only words he can hear are ‘hurt her’, and hurt her it seems someone may have done because out of the five that venture into the Giralang Ranges only four return. But what has happened to Alice?
Falk and his partner Carmen, quickly head up to the ranges to help in the search for the missing woman, liaising with police, searchers and the now-safe team members it is a race against time to find the woman before she dies of exposure. Her teammates don’t know what has happened to her but one thing is certain, something happened out there that has frightened each and every one of them.
It probably doesn’t help that this history of this particular area is sinister. Years ago, although the man is long dead, Martin Kovac went on a killing spree in the forest, and now it seems his only son, Sam, is missing. Is it a coincidence or could he have something to do with Alice’s disappearance?
For Falk he has two concerns, will they ever find Alice alive and what does that mean for his own case again BaileyTennants?
Force of Nature is the second in a series by Jane Harper but unlike The Dry that is set in a small outback town where everyone knows your business; this second book highlights the unforgiving nature of the wilderness and its hostility towards human interference.
You get to see the story unfold from both perspectives – reading about what actually happened during the weekend from the women who took part and then learning more about the search efforts and the investigations into the company from Falk’s viewpoint.
For me, Force of Nature was a novel I digested in a matter of days. It is an easy-to-read narrative that grips you and pulls you into the fold. You want to know what happened in the wilderness and I found myself willing Alice to be ok. I wanted to know that everything would be OK in the end and that Falk would get the information he needed to take the firm down. The only problem is, life never seems to work out that way.
If you are after a book to devour, one that is not too complicated and easy to follow, then Force of Nature is one such novel. Just like The Dry, I believe it is a crime novel that will be talked about all year and who knows maybe the filming rights will be snapped up for this one as well.
Have you read the Force of Nature? Did you pick up The Dry and enjoy it, or did you find the story-line slow? Have you read a novel with a similar story-line that you feel others would enjoy?
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