Jane Harper’s debut The Dry, set in the outskirts of Melbourne, was such a hit that Auntie M had to see what all the fuss was about. After reading it, she immediately ordered the sequel, Force of Nature, and anxiously awaits a third.

The Dry introduces Federal Agent Aaron Falk, who left Kiewarra twenty years ago and hasn’t looked back. With his unusual looks, he’s always been a standout.

Then he find out his best friend from childhood, Luke, and his entire family have been found murdered. Hesitating, his visit home is clinched when he receives a note saying that the sending knows that Aaron and Luke lied about a childhood event, and tells him to come for the funeral.

The worst drought in decades has hit the rural area yet most of it is still recognizable to Aaron. Leaving with his father, now dead, had been a defining moment of his youth.

Returning will thrust him into the world of buried secrets, long-held grievances, and the question of who really killed Luke and his family.

Force of Nature bring Aaron back to a natural area, this time to a corporate retreat on a wilderness site. Five women have gone the trek, ostensibly to bond out of their office comfort zone in a weekend away that is to build trust——but only four return.

Aaron’s involvement rests on the missing hiker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his most recent case. She was supposed to be bringing him documentation that would topple her company and several people in it. And several of those people were in the woods with her.

As Aaron adds himself to the searchers and the investigation, the stories the four returning hikers give vary slightly, and just enough to raise his suspicions. Who betrayed the hiker?

Both books are tightly plotted, and illustrate a detail for characters that make them realistic and how that Harper is a great study of human nature. With their compelling story and the lead character perhaps the most intriguing of all, Harper’s books are both Highly Recommended.