The Exiled is one of two Finnish books being published by Orenda Books this month under the banner The Finnish Invasion. The other book is The Mine by Antti Tuomainen. I'm featuring my review of The Mine on 13th November, so don't forget to join me on that day too.
My review of The Exiled
By Kati Hiekkapelto
Published by Orenda Books (15 November 2016)
Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes?
The Exiled is a slow-burning chilling crime novel filled with social conscience. Translated exceptionally well by David Hackston, this book is beautifully written, with vivid descriptions and a highly topical backdrop - looking at the refugee crisis in Europe.
In Kati Hiekkapelto's previous book (The Defenceless), Anna Fekete was investigating crime in the chilling setting of frozen Finland. In The Exiled, Anna has returned to her roots in steaming Serbia (near the Hungarian border), where Hungarians, Serbians and Romanies are living side by side but with tension between the different communities.
Anna's relaxing family holiday takes a sinister turn when her handbag is stolen. The thief - a member of the local Romany community - is found dead by the river and, although her bag is recovered, key contents are missing, including her passport. The local police department doesn't seem very interested in the crime, so Anna decides to take matters into her own hands using her expertise as a police investigator.
Anna's research leads her to unravel corruption in the local community, linked to the refugee crisis and illegal immigration. As she reveals more about the thief's identity, she discovers some unexpected revelations about her family's past and begins to question her own 'sense of belonging'. She's of Hungarian origin but has lived as a legal 'outsider' in Finland since she was a child. She has never really lived within the Serbian community, even though her parents had settled there. This is a thread that continues from the previous book, but The Exiled can easily be read as a standalone.
The Exiled certainly kept me guessing until the end. Just when I thought I had it sussed, there was another twist thrown into the plot. But this book is about much more than the crime and Anna's investigations. Kati Hiekkapelto isn't afraid to tackle controversial social issues, going beyond the reach of most crime fiction, with a taut compelling writing style, an amazing sense of location and a multi-layered thought-provoking plot.
I received an Advance Reader Copy.
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