After the Smoke Clears by Australian author Kylie Kaden is captivating work in the mystery, drama, crime, and suspense subgenres.
Charlotte (Lotti) Hill lives in Canberra, Australia, the daughter of a federal politician she has grown up in a life of power and privilege. Wanting to be independent she turns her back on her family and their expectations and moves north of Brisbane to start her career as a primary school teacher.
August (Augie) Silverfall, a single dad to six-year-old deaf Otto meets Lotti when she becomes his son’s teacher. He has not lived a life of entitlement like Lotti and works hard to provide for himself and Otto. Although physically strong and a man of action he is quiet and emotionally reserved which draws Lotti to him.
A mysterious phone call in the middle of the night, sees Augie rushing back to the small town he grew up in. Eldham, in central Queensland, was a place he never wanted to return but his friend Brookes needed him. Without an explanation of the circumstances, he leaves Otto in Lotti’s care.
Days pass with no word from Augie, Lotti takes matters into her own hands and decides to go to Eldham with Otto to get answers. When she arrives is it not what she anticipates or has predicted, the small town has held secrets for decades. A terrible crime becomes known, and Augie may not be the man she knows. Will she be willing to understand and accept his past?
Kylie Kaden offers readers an interesting plot. She includes all the elements necessary in a psychological drama combining a smooth blend of mystery and intrigue with a healthy dose of complex family dynamics and hidden secrets. The book employs a slow-burn narrative that expands with each passing page as the mystery unfolds one layer at a time.
Beautifully written in two timelines (1988 and 2009) expertly entwining the past and present, making excellent use of dialogue, and giving readers a much clearer and endearing understanding of each character and their motivations and actions. You’ll feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster, experiencing every torrent of emotion of hope, despair, sadness, and joy that the protagonists bring you.
I was able to sympathise with Lotti; her emotions seem genuine; she had forged a life for herself without her father’s influence but when it came to the man, she was falling for there were so many secrets he was hiding from her.
With their future in jeopardy, she showed courage and determination to uncover his truth.
Augie started off less likable to me, but as the story progressed, he showed the most character development. He is genuinely a lovely man who has been trapped by circumstances that are haunting. Augie’s son Otto is a terrific addition to the storyline, even though he has been exposed to so much he is a sweet happy little boy and I love the relationship he has with Lotti.
After the Smoke Clears is a story that is emotionally loaded and will have a strong appeal for fans of psychological drama.
The book cover is intriguing and well-designed with an eeriness feel. If I saw it on a bookshelf, it would pique my curiosity and encourage me to pick it up.
This is a book that you deserve to experience for yourself. I highly recommend it.
Make sure you also check out One of Us by the same author.
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading After the Smoke Clears by Kylie Kaden. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
My love of books started at a very young age. My mum has always been a reader and encouraged me to read, buying me endless book from classic fairy tales advancing to the world of Enid Blyton, CS Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Kathryn Kenny, Carolyn Keene, Francine Pascal. In my adult years the list of authors is endless and every room in my house is filled with books.
One of my favourite novels is Narnia which has always has a special place in my heart. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1978 and when I was given this book to read it let me escape to another world where I felt like I was in the book with all the characters, it wasfun and exciting to escape from reality and eased the ups and downs of the disease at such a young age.
In books nothing is impossible and there is endless potential and hundreds of places to explore or being taken to places that are only made up from the authors’ great minds, the past and future to navigate, characters lives you step into taking you on an emotional rollercoaster ride or being scared out of your wits. I can experience things that I can’t in real life because they’re not possible or real. It challenges my perspective and mindset expanding my worldview.
I find joy, comfort and peace with books, many people may not get it, but I know bookworms like me truly understand. Reading makes my heart happy.