Monday, April 10, 2017


THE EXILED by Kati Hiekkapelto (Orenda Books, 2016

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Murder. Corruption. Dark secrets. A titanic wave of refugees. Can Anna solve a terrifying case that’s become personal? 

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?

In this third instalment in Kati Hiekkapelto's excellent Anna Fekete series, which has won and been shortlisted for awards in multiple countries and languages, her hard working Finnish detective is dragged into a case while she's meant to be enjoying a vacation in Eastern Europe.

Fekete has returned to her childhood home of Kanizsa, a Serbian village near the Hungarian border. Her ought-to-be relaxing summer break is torn asunder when her bag is snatched, only for the thief to then turn up dead on the banks of the river soon after. But what happened to the little gypsy girl who'd been part of the bag snatch, with the dead man? And why are the local police so keen to say it was an accidental drowning when to Fekete's eyes those facts simply don’t fit?

As Fekete is drawn into her own investigation, compelled to uncover what's really going on, she finds locals and her own family putting up roadblocks at every turn. The case begins to collide not only with the gypsy and refugee communities, but also alarmingly with her own past, and the death of her policeman father many years before. Fekete realises people close to her are keeping big secrets.

THE EXILED is a beautifully written mystery full of intriguing characters and a superb sense of place. Hiekkapelto brings the natural and social landscapes of Serbia to life, texturing her tale with the complexities of migrants populations and human interactions. Furthermore, Hiekkapelto is unafraid to dig into contemporary prejudices in relation to gypsies and refugees. Topical, elegant, and chilling, THE EXILED  is further evidence that Hiekkapelto is a star continuing to rise.

Craig Sisterson is a lapsed lawyer who writes features for leading magazines and newspapers in several countries. He has interviewed more than 180 crime writers, discussed crime writing onstage at arts and literary festivals in Europe and Australasia, on national radio, has been a judge of the Ned Kelly Awards, and is the Judging Convenor of the Ngaio Marsh Awards. You can follow him on Twitter: @craigsisterson

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