Originally published: 2 February 2023
Author: Jane Harper
Published by: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Crime Thriller
Length: 432 pages
Reading dates: 31 January – 5 February 2023
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. . .
A year ago when Melbourne detective Aaron Falk is in Marralee for the christening of his godson Henry, Kim Gillespie disappears – she is attending the local food and wine festival with her husband and new baby daughter. Her daughter is found abandoned in her pram and Kim is nowhere to be seen. Her disappearance sends shock waves through the community – Kim grew up in Marralee and had many friends still living there as well as her ex Charlie and their teenage daughter Zara.
The christening is cancelled and Aaron returns a year later to for the rescheduled christening and stays on Charlie’s vineyard with his friends Greg and Rita Raco who are Henry’s parents. There is no further knowledge about what happened to Kim. Some think she fell in the reservoir or maybe committed suicide but with no body to support this theory, daughter Zara especially wants to keep pushing for answers.
This is my first Jane Harper book and I’ve wanted to read her for so long (I know ilovedreadingthis is a huge fan!) This is the third Aaron Falk book the others being The Dry and Force of Nature but as I seem to have a habit of doing, I have read the third one first! It doesn’t really matter – I think it would have been better for a more enriched experience if I had read the other two first to learn a bit about his back story and his relationship with fellow detective Greg Raco but I soon felt I knew his character. There is a lot to unpick in this book – as well as the mystery of Kim’s disappearance, Josh, one of Zara’s friends is mourning his father who several years earlier was involved in a hit and run at the reservoir which is something of a local beauty spot.
I absolutely loved Exiles – a fantastic set of characters and descriptions that captured the feel of the town and the festival so well. A lot of the story is centred around the reservoir – there has always been a tradition of the local kids drinking and having fun there especially during the festival, something that not everyone agrees should happen. Falk ends up spending quite a bit of time down there talking to Josh about what happened to his dad and trying to figure out what happened to Kim. As ever in a crime procedural novel, the investigation and the solution when it comes surprised me – I literally read the final third in one sitting I was so invested.
Brilliant! I can’t wait to read the first two!
Thank you to Book Break and Pan Macmillan for my gifted proof copy.
About the author:
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.
Well, this certainly sounds like a great story. I haven’t read anything by this author, but now I’m seriously considering which book to start with 🤔
Great review as usually 😊
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Thank you Ana! I can’t recommend which others to read but if you fancy this, I’d start at the beginning of the series instead of book 3!
I loved The Dry and The Lost Man which is a standalone. I her descriptions of the Outback in those two books!
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She is definitely an author I will return to!
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