Blog Tour: Review of The Exiled by Kati Heikkapelto

So this is going to be a review with a difference for two reasons. First is this is the first book I have read by this author and the first set in the countries covered in the book.  The second reason is that I haven’t actually finished reading the book yet. (Sorry!)  University work and a placement have meant that I’ve been overwhelmed by information during the day recently and the last thing I’ve wanted to do at night is read anything.  So while I have started the book and can review what I’ve read so far I won’t be rating it until I have finished it, despite this I do have some feedback from what I have read so you can definitely get a flavour of the book from my review.

finnish-blog-tour

 

Blurb:

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? Chilling, taut and relevant, The Exiled is an electrifying, unputdownable thriller from one of Finland’s most celebrated crime writers.

My thoughts so far:

As I’ve already said this is the first book I’ve read by this writer and from what I’ve read so far I doubt it will be the last.  This is not the first Anna Fekete book  but there is enough background given that I haven’t felt that I am missing any essential information about her.  I started reading wondering what I had agreed to read, between the book being originally written in a different language and the way it is written I was finding it both quite strange and completely gripping.

There’s something about books that have been initially written in a non-English language that makes the writing (once translated) quite different from those that were written in English and therefore don’t require translation for an English speaking market.  I can’t explain what this difference is but if you read this book or anything similar you should be able to see it for yourself.  For me that difference makes the books quite mesmerising, the way they are written (both this and The Bird Tribunal) is quite distinctive and I really like it.  The authors seem to focus on areas that other authors don’t, for instance there is a lot of description of the area, trees, feelings of air moving, nearby sounds, etc but these are done in such a way that makes them very clear but without the book being overly descriptive and wordy, not something that many authors can achieve.

This book has that descriptive writing and it adds so much to the story without getting in the way.  We follow Anna who has returned home for a summer holiday and then decides to investigate when her handbag is stolen and she is unsatisfied with the police investigation.  For anyone who does not know, Anna is a police investigator in Finland (where she lives) so the idea of her investigating in her home town is not as far-fetched as it may sound.  We get to see her conflicted thoughts as to whether she should investigate or just leave things especially as she gets her bag back missing only a few items.  There is a lot of pressure on her to drop her inquiries but something nags at her and suggests she should continue.  This conflict is well-written and mirrors my own so far. I can understand why she wants to investigate and I want the same answers she does but at the same time I am concerned that her continued investigation could be a bad idea.

It’s clear that this is a recently written book because it already has made mention of refugees fleeing Syria and other countries and we get to see the impact that has on the people in the town and how welcoming they are (or not).  There is also conflict and disagreement over the perception of Roma gypsies between Anna and others in the town.  This conflict is proving particularly interesting to me because the perception of gypsy/travellers in the UK is something that was covered on my course a few weeks ago so it’s interesting to see how it is tackled by an author from a different country and what the assumptions and prejudices are in other countries.

So far this book has proved most intriguing and is one of those books you get sucked into when you start reading.  Time disappears while you follow Anna and agonise over her decisions with her.  I’m disappointed that I haven’t been able to finish this book in time for the blog tour but it will definitely be finished soon as there is no way I can leave it and not know what happens to Anna, the investigation and all the other interesting characters that have appeared so far.

 

 

Author bio: Kati Hiekkapelto was born in 1970 in Oulu, Finland. She wrote her first stories

at the age of two and recorded them on cassette tapes. Kati has studied Fine Arts in Liminka Art School and Special Education at the University of Jyväskylä.  The subject of her final  thesis/dissertation was racist bullying in Finnish schools.  She went on to work as a special
needs teacher for immigrant children. Today Kati is an international crime writer, punk singer and performance artist. Her books, The Hummingbird and The Defenceless have been translated into 16 languages and both were shortlisted for the Petrona Award in the
UK.
The Defenceless won Best Finnish Crime Novel of the Year, and has been shortlisted for the prestigious Glass Key. She lives and writes in her 200 year old farmhouse in Hailuoto, an island in the Gulf of Bothnia, North Finland. In her free time she rehearses with her band, runs, hunts, picks berries and mushroom s, and gardens. During long, dark winter months she chops wood to heat her house, shovels snow and skis.
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