My sole regret in listening to Exiles‘ twelve hours is that I neglected to read The Dry and Force Of Nature, both still nestled in my TBR. Gah, this was good, though I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why for the first oh ten or so hours. As I listened to the final two, it hit me: I had experienced one of the most elaborate, meandering premises I’d ever read, taken in, bamboozled, yet the whole time I was smugly making assumptions about who, what, where, and why. Having come to the end, I have to decide: did I just read something I can throw the “contrived” criticism at, or something utterly clever, brilliant, and compelling? For starters, let’s offer the publisher’s blurb to get some narrative details out of the way:
Federal Investigator Aaron Falk is on his way to a small town deep in Southern Australian wine country for the christening of an old friend’s baby. But mystery follows him, even on vacation.
This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of Kim Gillespie’s disappearance. One year ago, at a busy town festival on a warm spring night, Kim safely tucked her sleeping baby into her stroller, then vanished into the crowd. No one has seen her since. When Kim’s older daughter makes a plea for anyone with information about her missing mom to come forward, Falk and his old buddy Raco can’t leave the case alone.
As Falk soaks up life in the lush valley, he is welcomed into the tight-knit circle of Kim’s friends and loved ones. But the group may be more fractured than it seems. Between Falk’s closest friend, the missing mother, and a woman he’s drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge. What would make a mother abandon her child? What happened to Kim Gillespie? (more…)