Exiles by Jane Harper

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The third in the series about Aaron Falk a federal investigator, following finds Aaron at a festival in the wine country in South Australia. A terrible discovery is made – a baby has been left by herself in a pram and her mother Kim Gillespie, has disappeared, never to be seen again. A year later Aaron is back, this time for a christening, and deep rifts and fractures appear in the tight-knit community as the community begins to remember the events of the night and the truth begins to surface.

Jane Harper is a clever author, drawing on the atmosphere of a wine growing area as she explores the relationships in the families that Aaron is close to. The festival is running again, and questions are being asked about what was really seen on that night. Aaron is also drawn to Gemma, the organiser of the festival and to her stepson Joel, who is grieving the loss of his father who had been killed by a motorist who left the scene. These two mysteries begin to fascinate Aaron as he reconstructs what has happened in the past.

I was left pondering the title Exiles and the  sentence on the front cover ‘We see what we expect to see,’ as I tried to follow the clues and spot the red herrings in the plot. I was also fascinated by the relationships – Aaron’s growing feelings for Gemma and the life of the missing woman, Kim.

As always, there was depth and complexity to the story from Harper who is an outstanding author of rural noir and Exiles is a worthy successor to her other novels, The Dry, Force of Nature, The Lost Man and The Survivors.

Themes: Mystery, Thriller, Australia Crime, Suspense, Family relationships.

Pat Pledger