Author: Jane Harper
Due for release on February 2nd by Macmillan
Category: Contemporary, Australian Fiction
At a busy festival site on a warm spring night, a baby lies alone in her pram, her mother vanishing into the crowds.
A year on, Kim Gillespie’s absence casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather deep in the heart of South Australian wine country to welcome a new addition to the family.
Between Falk’s closest friend, a missing mother, and a woman he’s drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge.
Twelve months ago Kim Gillespie left her baby in the area reserved for prams during the Marralee town food and wine festival. The baby was discovered later in the evening but there was no sign of her mother, only a shoe by the nearby reservoir. Federal Financial Investigator Aaron Falk was there then and now he’s back twelve months later to act as godfather at the christening of his good friends, Greg and Rita Raco’s baby. The ceremony was postponed due to Kim’s disappearance, which still haunts the local community. Greg would really like Falk’s help to investigate further. There was a hit and run several years prior at virtually the same spot, which also remained unsolved but whether the two are connected in any way remains to be seen.
The family dynamics aren’t straightforward. Kim was married to Charlie Raco, Greg’s brother, initially, and has a daughter, Zara, from that marriage. Zoe, the baby who was left in her pram, is from Kim’s second marriage.
Exiles has a measured pace. It’s a character driven, multi layered mystery with a fully developed cast, set in a small town where secrets abound. Falk suspects all is not as it seems in the close knit community, with all the tensions and clashes of a small group of people living in fairly close proximity. Snippets of information and discoveries are drip fed slowly as the narrative progresses until the final reveal, which was worth waiting for.
I liked Aaron Falk in the previous books in which he appeared – The Dry and Force of Nature – but I like him more in this one. The setting is very atmospheric – a small (fictitious) town in the lush South Australian wine country. I enjoyed the fact Falk was there unofficially which gave the reader chance to get to know the man rather than the investigator. And it seems this visit could also herald a turning point in Falk’s life as we witness his inner conflicts.
Well written as always, Exiles focuses on the sometimes complicated relationships between the characters and the setting is an important aspect of the story as well.
Many thanks to Laura Sherlock for my proof copy
Jane Harper is the author of The Dry, winner of various awards including the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, the 2017 Indie Award Book of the Year, the 2017 Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year Award and the CWA Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of 2017. Rights have been sold in 27 territories worldwide, and film rights optioned to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea. Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne.