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The Exile by Allan Folsom
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's review
May 27, 2012

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Read in May, 2012


John Barron, a fairly green but extremely talented police officer (LAPD), is the central character.

He is privileged to join an elite LAPD unit, based on his promising but short record. But on his first mission, the unit's members "jump him in," just as a gang would, by pressuring him to participate in murder. Unit members are so sanctimonious they think the team should just execute hard-core perps upon arrest (then hiding or altering the evidence of homicide) rather than trust the justice system to settle the score.

Barron is blamed by veteran members of the unit when one of their key guys is killed while a bad guy escapes custody (the same bad guy Barron had refused to shoot dead while the guy was still in the unit's custody before going to jail).

A big scandal results from the incident, and the once-esteemed elite unit is shut down. Older members of the team solely blame Barron for failing to uphold the unit's skewed code of honor and silence.

John takes a buyout from the LAPD, and flees to Europe with his impaired young-adult sister, who has become a mute, induced by the trauma of witnessing their adopted parents' murders some years before. John hides his police past, and enters university in England to become a city planner. He believes his new identity and remote location are unknown to his LAPD enemies.

This is where the "Exile" title comes into play.

There are a lot of implausible elements to the story, which was still entertaining.

The biggest improbability is that John's sister should recover her speech and fall in love with the very same bad guy that had escaped from LAPD after John refused to shoot.) The romance develops without John's knowledge, as the sister has taken an au pair job in Switzerland.

Another sizable improbability is that this bad guy - Raymond Thorne aka alexander Cabrera -- is a member of the Russian Romanov dynasty, and is part of a plot to reinstall the monarchy to Russia by killing several men ahead of him in the line of succession to the throne.

To rescue his naive sister AND get Cabrera, John cooperates w. European law enforcement in a way that jeopardizes his low profile.

When all the dust settles on the complex Romanov plot, Barron -- who's well situated in England, with a smart-nice Brit girlfriend and promising career in urban planning -- decides to take a brief trip to Hawaii to unwind.

The book ends with a chill -- in the form of four-letter message left in soap on the windshield of his rental car. It reads:


(crashing dissonant chord on a pipe organ resolves to minor key, curtains down, lights abruptly out).


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