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Exiles by Jane Harper

Exiles

Aaron Falk Mystery #3

by Jane Harper
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  • First Published:
  • Jan 31, 2023
  • Paperback:
  • Feb 2024
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Cloggie Downunder

another excellent example of Aussie Crime Fiction
Exiles is the third book in the Aaron Falk series by award-winning Australian journalist and author, Jane Harper. A year after he was meant to become godfather to Greg and Rita Raco’s baby son, Henry, Aaron Falk is returning to the Marralee Valley Annual Food And Wine Festival, the scene of a disappearance that postponed the baby’s christening.

On the first day of the Festival, a year earlier, thirty-nine-year-old Kim Gillespie went missing, leaving behind a husband, a teenaged daughter, and a six-week-old baby. Now, there’s an appeal from seventeen-year-old Zara, Kim’s husband Rohan and ex-boyfriend Charlie, to any who were present twelve months earlier, for even the most insignificant scrap of information that might help to reveal what happened to the beloved wife and mother.

As he and KIewarra cop Greg wander the venue before the appeal, Aaron gets a feel for who was where, including himself, although he is a little distracted by a potential encounter with a certain woman, as he was a year earlier. Many of those they speak to express regret at not having said or done something at the time while, strangely, those who knew Kim deny speaking to her on the evening she vanished.

While local sergeant, Rob Dwyer, absent at the time, along with others, wonder if Kim might have left voluntarily, Zara is convinced that her mother would never have chosen to leave her husband and daughters, and especially would never have left baby Zoe alone in the Festival’s pram bay. Some believe she may have drowned in the nearby reservoir, but Zara’s friend, Joel is certain that she did not come to the reservoir via the route where he was stationed.

Greg Raco shows Aaron the comprehensive file he has made on Kim’s disappearance, having quietly checked for himself the alibis of everyone who knew Kim, and feels in his gut that something is amiss, but what? He and Aaron walk the perimeter, suggest theories, but come up blank.

For young Joel, the Festival stirs different unhappy memories: his father, Dean, accountant for many Marralee businesses, was killed in a hit-and-run at a dangerous reservoir spot known as The Drop, six years earlier. The driver was never found. Aaron reluctantly agrees to look over footage of the scene.

Having chatted more than once to most people who knew Kim, Aaron is left wondering if this depressed woman ran away, took her own life in the reservoir, or if her fate was a more sinister one. It’s Greg Raco’s five-year-old daughter, Eva who finally, unwittingly, crystallizes the niggling thought that has danced in Aaron’s subconscious.

Harper effortlessly evokes the small Australian country town, and her characters are typical of those one might encounter there. Her clever plot has enough intrigue and distraction to keep the reader guessing right up to the final reveals. Falk’s inner monologue and his dialogue with various characters cement his appeal, and reinforce his integrity. This is another excellent example of Aussie Crime Fiction and, whether or not it features Aaron Falk, more from Jane Harper will be eagerly anticipated.
Ali

Lovely & thought provoking
Enjoyed this as much if not more than the previous ones. Beautifully written, absorbing, atmospheric & interesting. You feel as if you actually know the characters and can relate to them.
Techeditor

I hope this is not the end of Aaron Falk
EXILES is further proof of Jane Harper’s writing skills. Here is another of her literate mysteries/thrillers. This book will grab you from page 1.

Aaron Falk is again the main character when he visits his friends the Racos to be their son’s godfather. While he spends a week in this small Australian town, he solves two mysteries.

Kim, the ex-wife of one of the Raco brothers, since remarried, has been missing for a year. Most presume that she is dead. Falk looks into this case at the insistence of his friend’s niece.

Another case, now six years old, involves the dead husband of a woman he meets there. Her stepson still wants to find the hit-and-run driver who killed him.

I’ve read all of Harper’s books and anxiously await her next one. But I heard her say that she is dropping Aaron Falk as a recurring character. I hope she changes her mind, and I think she might. She seems to have made an opening so she can bring him back if she wants to.
Shetreadssoftly

very highly recommended procedural
Exiles by Jane Harper is the very highly recommended procedural and the third installment of the series featuring Aaron Faulk.

Set in Southern Australian wine country, Australian Federal Investigator Aaron Falk is going to the christening of a friend's baby and the festival on the weekend that marks the one year anniversary of Kim Gillespie's disappearance at the town of Marralee's food and wine festival. Thirty-nine-year-old Kim had tucked her five-week-old sleeping baby into her stroller and then vanished into the festival crowd, never to be seen again.

Now, a year later, Kim's older teenage daughter, Zara, and Falk's friend Greg Raco have asked him to look into the case as they ask anyone at this year's festival with more information to come forward. As he looks into the case, questions begin to emerge. What happened to Kim Gilles? What would make a mother abandon her child?

Exiles is an excellent addition to the procedural series, following The Dry and Force of Nature. Although you can read them as stand-alone novels, they are better read as part of the series. The novel sets an atmospheric, thoughtful, deliberate pace as both the setting and the investigation are carefully explored. There are plenty of suspects and motives within the narrative as the secrets and evidence is disclosed. The narrative unfolds in three timelines: a year previously, a week in the present, and three years in the future.

Harper is an exceptional writer and pays equal attention to the development of her characters as she does to the investigational part of the procedural. The characters are all fully realized, complex individuals, with established backstories. Falk is the narrator of almost all of the novel, which gives his character by far the most depth and complexity. His voice is already the main focal point of the narrative.

There is actually more than one mystery that begs to be solved in Exiles. Clues are present as the narrative unfolds and careful readers will appreciate the challenge and the presentation. This is an excellent third novel in the series and rumor has it the final Aaron Falk. This is an excellent ending to the series if that is the case.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Flatiron Books via NetGalley
Julie

Another Excellent Harper Mystery
I was thrilled to be chosen to review this book. I've read everything by Jane Harper and she never disappoints. She always keeps me interested till the very end. What I love about this book, is you don't have to have necessarily read the other Falk books. I keep reading that this is the last book in the trilogy. But, I'm hopeful based on the ending I read there is room for Aaron Falk's return.
Chris-H

Great characters and location
I thoroughly enjoyed Exiles. The way the characters, both young and old, devolved as the story progressed kept me hooked to the last page. I know the South Australian wine region and it was captured on the page so vividly as was the atmosphere of living in a small regional town. There is no doubt Jane Harper is at the top of her craft, her plot and character development was totally believable and I didn’t see the end (of both crimes) coming. I hope there are more crimes for Aaron Falk to solve in the pipeline.
Shirley F

Another Aaron Falk Mystery
I just love the way Jane Harper develops a plot, adds tension and suspense, and brings out important themes of friendship and community. The book begins with a mysterious disappearance of a baby's mother, Kim. Her sneaker is found near a reservoir but there is no sign of Kim.
The small community setting serves as a background to this mystery and another - an unsolved hit and run 6 yrs earlier, Harper develops a tight plot with multiple characters each with a distinct voice and personality. She expertly wove the 2 mysteries together, which kept me guessing - but the resolution (which came out of the subtle clues) made perfect sense and afforded me a satisfying conclusion.
Thanks to Bookbrowse for an ARC- I really enjoyed reading about Aaron Falk and Greg Raco again (both characters from The Dry), and reading of their excellent work.
Alan K. (Westport, MA)

Excellent read
This is the third book in the of Aaron Falk series by Jane Harper. It is a stand alone so reading the first two is not necessary (but you should as they are wonderful also). Both the characters and setting are well-developed. The setting is Australia's wine country. This is a very good character-driven mystery and well worth your time.

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