Book Review: Exiles by Jane Harper

About the Book:

At a busy festival site on a warm spring night, a baby lies alone in her pram, her mother vanishing into the crowds.

A year on, Kim Gillespie’s absence casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather deep in the heart of South Australian wine country to welcome a new addition to the family.

Joining the celebrations is federal investigator Aaron Falk. But as he soaks up life in the lush valley, he begins to suspect this tight-knit group may be more fractured than it seems. Between Falk’s closest friend, a missing mother, and a woman he’s drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge.


Published by Pan Macmillan Australia

Released September 2022

My Thoughts:

I was so looking forward to this novel, at last, Aaron Falk returns! I know everyone raves about The Dry, and I liked it well enough, but Force of Nature, the second Aaron Falk, was far more appealing to me. It was at the end of that one that I was left wanting more, hoping that this character was going to get his own long running series. Instead, Jane Harper took a break from Falk and wrote a couple of other novels, one good, one less so, and finally, after such a long wait, she returned to her first character, now immortalised on the screen by Eric Bana, AFP Detective, Aaron Falk.

I’m not going to mince words here; I’ve already wasted enough time on this book. Exiles was a massive disappointment. It’s literally about nothing. Falk travels to a small town in the Adelaide Hills to be a godfather to his friend’s baby – Raco, from The Dry, turns out those two kept in touch. Anyway, the christening coincides with the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of a local woman, not so coincidentally, the missing woman is Raco’s former sister-in-law, Kim, and they postponed the christening a year previous due to her disappearance, yet weirdly, thought it was appropriate to hold it on the anniversary of her unsolved disappearance. Also, Raco doesn’t live in the Adelaide Hills anymore, he lives in Victoria, but he and everyone else are travelling back to the scene of the crime for the christening. I know, but wait, there’s more.

From the get-go, everyone is just bumping into each other and musing about Kim’s disappearance and how she definitely wasn’t the type of woman to just wander off and leave her baby and disappear. Over and over these conversations keep happening. For almost 400 pages. It’s more domestic drama than crime, and taking centre stage is Falk’s love life, so it’s a romance too. In the end, he gets the girl, solves the crime by thinking very hard until it all falls into place just like that, embarks on a career change, and then, accidentally, also solves a local six-year-old mystery, all in the last few chapters. There was no tension, no sense of urgency, nothing to make the endurance of the previous 400 pages worthwhile.

I’m disappointed. I only finished it because it’s my book club title for this month. From an author of this calibre who has delivered such quality stories with consistency, I expected much more.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Exiles by Jane Harper

  1. I don’t read this author as you know, but I’ll comment anyway… I get fed up with publishers who trade on an author’s popularity to deliver books that would not get published if they were by anybody else.

    Liked by 1 person

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