SUMMARY – The 10-second review
Unusual, well plotted British crime – Highly readable/page turner – Well written – Intriguing and funny.
Exit by Belinda Bauer has an intriguing premise: Felix Pink is part of a secret group called the Exiteers. What they do is not illegal, but not exactly legit either. Their mission is to sit with terminally ill people, who have chosen euthanasia, so that they do not die alone. They don’t help them die, they just sit with them while they die.
It’s a nice thought. I’d hire the Exiteers for myself in a heartbeat to avoid the alternative of a long, drawn out, painful death (no, the Exiteers don’t really exist. Uh, I think). In Exit, people who no longer want to live decide to put an end to it, purchase the necessary equipment themselves, write their will and commit suicide painlessly. The Exiteers keep them them company then clear up the evidence so that loved ones are not incriminated. What could possibly go wrong?
Oops, wrong guy!
Of course, things do go wrong when the Felix and his fellow-Exiteer Amanda realize that the wrong man is dead.
What follows is a hugely entertaining (really!), constantly surprising read. It’s in turns moving, warm, hilarious, violent, tender, … It covers quite an emotional range. The audiobook is beautifully read, so you get very immersed in the story.
From the outset, this is not a formulaic crime novel. There are criminals, police and innocent participants and bystanders, but none of them are clichéd figures. The many characters are all very distinct and well rounded. All of them turn out to be at least a little different than expected. Even the victim isn’t the right victim!
With its mix of characters, its unusual — occasionally even farcical — situations, and so many red herrings you could open a fish shop, this book could easily have been a sloppy mess. Not at all! It is very cleverly plotted. Every time you think you’ve figured it out, something new happens that turns the story on its head again. Only at the end do all the strings pull together.
The ending came as a complete surprise to me. Even if I had my suspicions about the guilty person, my suspicions were not about the right things, as it turned out.
The quirky, charming side of suicide
Of course this novel has a rather grim theme. Bauer takes the sting out of assisted suicide without in any way diminishing it. In fact it’s a deeply humane book at heart. Black humor at its best.
The book’s promotion includes comparisons with Richard Osman’s début novel The Thursday Murder Club. I concur. I loved the latter and easily see parallels, even though the story and settings are different. If you liked it too, I’m sure you’ll enjoy Exit, and vice versa.
My thanks to Netgalley for giving me a free copy of this book. All my reviews are 100% honest and unbiased, regardless of how I acquire the book.
You might also like: The Thursday Murder Club | Richard Osman