CANBERRA WEEKLY 29 SEPTEMBER 2022: EXILES By Jane Harper
This week in the Canberra Weekly I reviewed the latest rural murder mystery by Jane Harper, Exiles (Macmillan,
20 September 2022).
Jane Harper was not the first Australian author to write outback crime novels, but the huge success of The Dry, certainly cemented it as a popular sub-genre, not only in Australia, but also overseas. Exiles is a slightly less compelling novel than The Dry, but it is still hugely enjoyable and is a beguiling example of the crime writer’s art.
In the Canberra Weekly I said:
“Jane Harper pushed Australian crime writing to the forefront of international attention with her bestselling debut, The Dry. Set in drought ravaged rural Victoria, the book, and subsequent movie, proved very popular in Australia and overseas, and helped establish outback crime as one of the most popular forms of mystery writing in the world today.
Jane’s latest novel, Exiles, returns to the popular detective from The Dry, Aaron Falk, and finds him caught up in another complex case. Set in the heart of South Australia’s wine region, Exiles, revolves around the disappearance of a young mother during a local festival. Kim Gillespie’s baby is found alone in her pram towards the end of the night’s festivities, but there is no sign of Kim. Despite an intensive search she is never found. A year on and her absence still casts a long shadow over the community.
Falk is in the local wine town for the christening of a friend’s baby on the anniversary of Kim’s disappearance and finds himself increasingly drawn to the mystery of what happened to the missing woman. He also begins to suspect that the tight-knit group of Kim’s friends gathered together that weekend may be more fractured than it seems.
Exiles is a leisurely paced novel, which takes some time to set up its various strands. The characters are well fleshed out and interesting, and Jane’s portrayal of the local community is rich and convincing. The mystery elements are carefully put in place, and Jane keeps the reader guessing as to the outcome all the way to the final reveal.
Enhancing the enjoyment of the story are some vivid descriptions of the region and Jane’s sensitive handling of complex themes around the impact of lost, parental relationships and how too often ‘we see what we expect to see’.
In all, a thoroughly enjoyable rural mystery.”
I also did a longer review on my blog in early September: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/exiles-by-jane-harper-macmillan-20-september-2022/
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to read Exiles over a couple of sessions and it really drew me in and caught me up in the lives of the characters. I thought that Jane was particularly good in portraying teenagers and the complexities of their relationships and the mystery at the core of the novel was well handled and surprising. A very good read.