This is the third book I’ve read by Jane Harper, Australian mystery and crime writer, and she is turning out to be an incredibly consistent storyteller. I didn’t find this as personally engaging as The Dry, I’m pretty sure because this one (which also features Aaron Falk) didn’t have as personal of stakes, but it was still super solid. A creepy almost survivalist mystery, set in the Australian bush, a little unique because for most of the novel you’re not sure if there is actually going to be a dead body.
Alice Russell, along with four other women on a corporate teamwork retreat, walked into the Giralang Ranges (a fictional setting), and only the four other women emerged; Alice did not. As the authorities mobilize for a search, Aaron and his partner in the financial crimes unit of the Federal Police believe there is a good change that whatever happened to Alice in the Ranges had to do with the fact that she was their informant. Alice was—reluctantly—gathering information for them because the family company she’s been working for is in the family business of money laundering. Along on the retreat? Alice’s boss, his sister, and Alice’s personal assistant.
The narrative is actually split into two sections, and I did like one more than the other, although that’s just personal taste. I think the two were balanced very neatly, and information was revealed at the right places in both of them. One half of the book is told from Aaron’s perspective as he and his partner try to figure out what’s going on with Alice in the present day. The other half starts from five days previously at the beginning of the retreat, and each of these flashbacks alternate between the five women lost in the woods. I much preferred the investigation story, because I like the solving of things better than being creeped out psychologically.
I’m not sure if Harper plans on writing any more books in this series as she’s since done two standalones, but I would be in for them.
CBR BINGO: The Wilds