Murder. Corruption. Dark secrets. A titanic wave of refugees. Can Anna solve a terrifying case that's become personal?
The Exiled is Kati Hiekkapelto's third book featuring police investigator Anna Fekete but true to form it's the first book I have read by this author. Thankfully it's a book that can be read as a standalone and although I intend to read the two preceding books (The Hummingbird and The Defenceless), I don't feel not having read them had a negative impact on my enjoyment of what is a cracking story.
Although described as Scandi or Nordic noir, the book is actually set in Serbia. Anna Fekete has returned to the country of her birth for a holiday and looks forward to spending time with her mother and her childhood friends. However, when her bag is snatched during a local wine festival, what appears to be an opportune crime turns out to be something much darker. Anna's relaxing holiday becomes an investigation into murder and corruption and it's a case that links directly to her own family history. Meanwhile the refugee crisis is spreading across Europe, and Anna as an exile herself struggles with the reactions of some of her peers and countrymen to the influx of foreigners to their country.
I loved The Exiled for many reasons. Firstly it's a superb thriller, it's dark and suspenseful, Anna's investigation means we know the townsfolk aren't all they seem and it could result in her life being in danger. This is a proper chilling and tense page-turner of a mystery. As good as it is as a thriller though, what really makes The Exiled stand out for me is its very human soul. This is actually a book about not belonging. The refugee crisis is handled with sensitivity not sentimentality, The Exiled is bitingly current yet not feeling you belong is an experience shared by many in a turbulent and often brutal world and Hiekkapelto understands this. She writes with an uncompromising honesty about the human condition. Whether it is the most recent refugees, the Romany gypsies struggling to survive in a world where they are often seen as criminals or Fekete herself, exiled to Finland during the Balkan wars, now not sure if her adopted country or the country of her birth is her home, the theme running through the book is that of feeling out of place, of the desperate need to put down roots and to belong.
I truly loved The Exiled and am honoured to be a part of a blog tour to highlight the quality of writing coming out of Finland. Please see below for more stops on the tour and check out some of the other blog posts about this superb book and talented author.
The Exiled is published in the UK by Orenda Books. Many thanks for my advance copy received in return for my honest review.