#BookReview: Exiles by Jane Harper @panmacmillan #Exiles #damppebbles

“A mother disappears from a busy festival on a warm spring night.

Her baby lies alone in the pram, her mother’s possessions surrounding her, waiting for a return which never comes.

A year later, Kim Gillespie’s absence still casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather to welcome a new addition to the family.

Joining the celebrations on a rare break from work is federal investigator Aaron Falk, who begins to suspect that all is not as it seems.

As he looks into Kim’s case, long-held secrets and resentments begin to come to the fore, secrets that show that her community is not as close as it appears.

Falk will have to tread carefully if he is to expose the dark fractures at its heart, but sometimes it takes an outsider to get to the truth. . .

An outstanding novel, a brilliant mystery and a heart-pounding read from the author of The DryForce of NatureThe Lost Man and The Survivors.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Exiles by Jane Harper. Exiles was published yesterday (that’s Thursday 2nd February 2023) by Macmillan and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read a free eARC of Exiles but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am the BIGGEST fan of Australian crime fiction. If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then that may not come as much of a surprise to you. I try to prioritise Aussie crime fiction above everything else and read as much as humanly possible, because it’s become a bit of a passion (obsession?!) for me. What started me on my journey, waaaay back in 2017, was picking up a copy of The Dry, the first book in the Aaron Falk series by Jane Harper. From there on in, I was officially hooked. Harper’s latest release is the long awaited third book in the superb Aaron Falk series. I had been so looking forward to meeting up with Falk again that I felt a little apprehensive starting Exiles. But there was no need to worry. Exiles is literary perfection from start to finish and I loved every single moment I spent in the Marralee Valley.

Kim Gillespie tragically disappeared on the opening night of the Marralee Valley Annual Food and Wine Festival, leaving her young baby, Zoe, alone and unattended in her pram. Now, one year later, and with the shadow of Kim’s disappearance still hanging over the small community, Aaron Falk has arrived in the Valley to join Kim’s friends and family as they welcome a new addition to the family. Falk has finally managed to get a much deserved break from the AFP’s Financial Division but despite being on leave, his interest is piqued by Kim’s story.  The more he digs into what happened that day, the more confusing things become. Witness statements are muddled, sightings don’t quite ring true and those closest to Kim aren’t telling the whole truth. It’s down to Falk to peel back the layers of this small community and discover the secrets they’re desperate to keep hidden…

Exiles is an utterly compelling, completely engrossing mystery which delivers on every count. Harper creates the most beautifully drawn, believable characters who are thoroughly engaging and pull the reader into their world. You live each and every moment alongside them and for a fan of character-driven novels (that’s me!), it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. Add to the superb characterisation the compelling mystery which has you questioning everyone you meet along the way, plus Harper’s incredibly vivid, almost dreamy setting and you have a top notch mystery novel from the Queen of rural Australian crime. It was such a joy to be reunited with Falk again after the previous two books. There’s something so eminently likable about him and I enjoyed seeing him in a much more relaxed environment. This is the third and final book in this trilogy and the author has ended Falk’s journey on the most perfect note. A very satisfying conclusion to a must-read set of books.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would definitely recommend Exiles plus the earlier books in the series – The Dry and Force of Nature (not forgetting the two standalone non-Falk novels – The Lost Man and The Survivors, which are also excellent) to all mystery fans. Harper’s writing is exquisite, her characters are a masterpiece and the way she tells a story is captivating from the first word to the last. The mystery unfolds at a gentle pace, tension building throughout the book until you reach the startling conclusion. A highly entertaining, thoroughly immersive read which I devoured with utter glee. Jane Harper remains one of my favourite authors and if you haven’t discovered her books yet then I urge you to change that as soon as you can. Perfection on a page! Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Exiles. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Exiles by Jane Harper was published in the UK by Macmillan on 2nd February 2023 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

Jane Harper is the international bestselling author of The Dry, Force of Nature and The Lost Man.

Jane is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller, and has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year.

Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with The Dry in production as a major motion picture starring Eric Bana.
Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

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