Reviews

The Exiled by Christopher Charles

exiledHave you ever picked up a book outside your typical reading genre for quite a few unconnected reasons? I do not, typically, but one of my latest reads, The Exiled*, was just such a case.

First, I recently took a road trip to West Texas (from Denver) by way of Alamogordo, NM (I’ll save you the trouble of looking; it’s in very, very southern New Mexico). Those of you familiar with your southwestern American geography know I drove almost the entire length of New Mexico, north to south. It’s barren, rural, and can be brutally hot, but I was quite taken with the countryside (for the first few hours, after that I read a book instead). Second, two of my favorite authors recommended the book—Frank Bill and Patrick deWitt. And third, the author’s short bio said Charles, pseudonym for Chris Narozny, resides in Denver, meaning we are practically neighbors! (Or not.)

Although these reasons have very little actual reasoning behind them, they were enough to make me pick up the book. It’s a good thing, because I really enjoyed it. 

The Exiled is set in rural New Mexico, the home of Wes Raney, a former homicide cop who made one too many bad choices while working undercover in New York. Choices that cost him his job and his family. As punishment, he is exiled to a two-hundred-mile stretch of southwestern desert. Solitude suits him, but he’s thrown right back into his old mindset when a grisly murder scene is discovered in an underground bunker.

Although the novel works well as a mystery, Raney’s character is so well developed and gripping that Exiled could simply function as a character study, with strong hints of crime. Intense, spare, and gritty, it’s a first-rate page turner that I flew through in two days.

The Exiled is for anyone who loves a good detective novel where the detective isn’t so good, and for those who appreciate a strong story with strong writing—and a fair amount of blood.

I’m supposed to be reading books for the New England Challenge, which I am woefully failing at. Instead, I’m picking up a book to match my travel. Not a bad idea, but I am missing my planned goals for myself. It’s a a fine line to walk – reading to challenge myself, reading for review, and reading for pleasure. I’m still working on finding my balance. Any advice? I didn’t join Andi’s Read My Own Damn Books Challenge, but I definitely should’ve… She’s hosting a May “Smash Your Stack” event that looks intriguing.

*I received my copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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  • http://rosemaryandreadingglasses.com/ Carolyn O

    That road trip sounds so interesting–any particular reason you wanted to drive the length of New Mexico? I like the sound of this one; how would you compare it to The Ploughmen (which I loved) in terms of pace and/or gore?

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory O’Connor

      To get to southern New Mexico. 😀

      But really, we went to White Sands National Monument and then drove over to Big Bend National Park on the Texas-Mexico border.

      As far as comparing it to The Ploughmen, it would not compare favorably. This is one that I can see the author turning into a series, and while I liked this one, I would not necessarily pick up book two. It’s more genre mystery (fast pace, fast plotting) with a good sense of place.

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