Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews

REVIEW: Force of Nature (Aaron Faulk #2) by Jane Harper

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*No Spoilers*

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along a muddy track.
Only four come out on the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and encourage teamwork and resilience. At least, that’s what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker, Alice Russell. Because Alice knew secrets, about the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

The four returning women tell Falk a tale of fear, violence and fractured trust during their days in the remote Australian bushland. And as Falk delves into the disappearance of Alice, he begins to suspect some dangers ran far deeper than anyone knew.

“It’s the panic that gets you. Makes it hard to trust what you’re seeing.”
Jane Harper, Force of Nature

I discovered this novel on a themed book list I found on Off the Shelf, and I knew I had to try this one out. Now to see how this novel stands up.

I haven’t read many novels that take place in the Australian wilderness, I think a lot of us who don’t live in Australia forget just how close to nature the country is. Most of us hear about the weird creatures that live in the Outback. Some of the animals are cute and loveable, but others we wish to avoid at all costs.

I listened to this novel on audio and the narrator had a strong Australian accent and it took me a bit to tune my ear to what he was reading. Other than his accent, I found his reading to be entertaining.

I found the main character, Aaron Faulk to be your typical vanilla federal agent. He was observant of the other campers, and he could tell who was lying or holding things back. I felt like the writer put more of an effort into building dynamic characters into the group of female hikers. The only time I felt Faulk got any character development was when he discovered a collection of maps his late father kept.

Even though we learn Faulk didn’t get along with his dad growing up, the discovery of the maps of the hiking trails with notes his dad had written. This including wanting to go on some of the trails with Faulk. I felt like this gave Faulk some human characteristics and made me sympathize with him a bit.

The group of female hikers the whole mystery surrounds is your typical idea of females in the office workspace. Lots of drama, backstabbing, and gossipping. These aspects only got worse the more lost the women became. I felt like they wouldn’t have gotten too lost if the trail had some kind of markers at reasonable intervals to help people stay on the right path. I know that kind of ruins the idea of the retreat, but that’s just my thoughts.

Overall I thought this book was alright, the characters were a bit weak and stereotypical, and the mystery was a big let down. I felt like this could’ve used some work on Faulk’s character and made the group of females a bit more dynamic. If you’re itched for a trip to the wilds of the Australian wilderness, then I’d say to give this novel a try!

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Last Straw (Pigeon-Blood Red Book 2) by Ed Duncan

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*No Major Spoilers*

When a teenage girl witnesses a carjacking went bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss with no apparent motive. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history forge an uneasy alliance to protect the girl from a hitman with an agenda of his own.

After they find out that the crime boss is the father of the black teenage carjacker, Paul Elliott – lawyer and close friend of the witness’s family – begins counseling them.

As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled.

I meant to have this review up last month, however, life happened and I fell behind. I am thrilled and honored to be sharing this novel with my readers today. The Last Straw is a thrilling action-packed novel that is beautifully written in a way where I didn’t feel the need to read the previous novel in the series.

This novel touches on topics such as good vs evil, modern racism, and even how things aren’t as black and white as we like to believe.

“Paul, I’m certain you could have handled that situation without the gun and without fighting. You would have thought of something. You know how I hate seeing you carry a gun. But I’ll suprise you by saying I guess I’m glad you had it just this once to use as a bluff if you really had to, because I’m sure you never would have shot anyone, even if you’re not.”

Paul turned that over in his mind for a moment. “Maybe you know me better than I know myself. I don’t think I could have shot them either. No, I couldn’t. When we were inside [the movie theatre], I was thinking that when I was growing up, I had friends who could have been either one of those two. Hell, I could have been one of them. My father used to say no matter how far you travel, you can never change where you came from. I was so damned angry back there for a while, I almost forgot where I came from.” –The Last Straw

I enjoyed the mystery of how everything and everyone was connected. Seemingly random characters having a part in the grand scheme of the novel held my attention, I felt like it was put together really well. There weren’t too many characters to keep up with and I enjoyed learning about Paul Elliot’s history with Rico and D’Angelo.

My favorite character is Rico. He is a product of his environment, but he does the best he can for those he cares about (whether he acknowledges it or not). He is a hitman who isn’t afraid to tell his boss ‘no’ when a job interferes with his morals.

I liked the fact this novel isn’t afraid to touch on modern racism. Beverly, the mother of the suspected carjacker, confronts both the racism from her past as well as present day. I’m not going to spoil how Beverly is connected to the overall story, but I did enjoy learning her backstory as well.

If you’re looking for an action-packed thrilling mystery, then I would highly recommend The Last Straw. The story will have you sitting on the edge of your seat, and reaching for the tissues at times. This novel is a thriller with a heart.

Buy “The Last Straw” by Ed Duncan HERE!