Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Alafair Burke Keeps Pumping Out Winner After Winner!

susan-thoughtful (Photo credit: unnormalized)
"See, you just don't get it, do you,
McKenna? If you really knew my
sister, you'd realize that if she were alive--if she were here--she'd
know exactly where I was and how I was doing. She would know about her nephew. Hell, she'd probably have Porter's schedule down to the minute. She'd know that you were here right now. And yet I haven't heard one thing from her in ten years. Either she's dead, or she's got a damn good reason to keep her distance. Do you seriously think that, after all these years, you can take care of something that Susan Hauptmann couldn't? Please. Don't"

If You Were Here

By Alafair Burke

Alafair Burke kept me totally in the dark until the ending in her latest novel! She has a real talent for creating complex whodunits that are impossible to solve! No wonder I added her to my favorite author list when I had the chance to read Never Tell! Click over to read that review if you missed it!

The novel starts with a simple news story about a woman who had saved a young boy's life. Then evolves into more twists and turns than can easily be tracked! McKenna Jordan works for a New York magazine, so in order to cover something that has already been publicized in newspapers, she needs to look for a different, new angle. In this case, a young woman had jumped down in front of the subway, lifted a young boy up and back onto the platform, then jumped up and ran away without anybody knowing who she was.

"It was a Thursday, right around the time that single,
childless city dwellers had labeled Thursdays "the
new Friday." meaning it was the night to go out, get
drunk, and forget that one more day of work--albeit
a 'casual dress' one--still awaited us.
"And it wasn't just any Thursday, but a first Thursday
of the month, meaning it was the night of a Susan
Haupfmann happy hour.
"I arrived late, even relative to the obscene hours we
all kept back then. I had been burning the midnight
oil that entire week. I told my colleagues I was taking
the extra step of preparing written motions for all of
my upcoming trials. Their deadpan looks were the
silent equivalent of saying, "Whatever, nerd." But
I'd been in the District Attorney's Office for four
years and was still trying drug cases. I had vowed that
this would be the year that I got some attention...

"But that night involved no further mixing or
mingling. I barely noticed as the crown thinned and
familiar faces paused for a quick shoulder grab...
"Patrick and I paused the conversation only when
Susan showed up and squeezed between us, throwing
an arm around each of our shoulders. "Yo, I've been
sipping on gin and juice..."

"I was too distracted at the time to take Susan's
prediction about Patrick and me seriously. At the
time my entire focus was on making this the year
I finally got the attention I deserved at work.
"Both Susan and I turned out to be right..."

McKenna was fortunate to get her hands on a tape by a nearby observer and saw that the woman had been chasing the boy, and when she was leaving had something in her hand. Had the boy stolen her cell phone, only to be later saved by his victim, who definitely wanted to ensure she got her phone back! What a story angle that would make!

But as she studied that tape, she thought she recognized the woman--she thought it was a former friend who had disappeared ten years ago!

And once she believed that, there was no stopping her from finding her!

Because seeing her friend had taken her back into a time when her life was totally changed, bringing up memories, confusion and the doubt she'd once experienced. McKenna had once been an Assistant District Attorney. But when she had come to believe there was a dirty cop who had killed an unarmed boy, she had gone over her boss's head and to the public! She was fired, because it was proven that she was wrong...

But during that same time period, Susan, her best friend who had introduced her to her husband, had left without a word. Was she dead or alive, nobody had ever proven what happened. Now, perhaps, Susan was back...

Only one clue was found as she went over and over that tape--an emblem for a group of eco-terrorists! And where that group had been living was blown up shortly after the event on the subway. A woman was seen running out of the building, while others were killed. The FBI was soon involved!

McKenna believed that there had been too many coincidences 10 years ago. She started to talk to those that had been involved with the investigation at that time.

Burke peels off a new scene without muss or fuss and readers easily follow each layer of the complex puzzle that continues to unfold throughout the novel. Much is the usual police procedural interviewing as she pairs up with the cop that was on the case then, and admits now that, because of family problems, he may not have handled thee case as he should have.

And talking about family problems, McKenna is forced to question her own husband when she finds that he and Susan were apparently more involved than she ever knew. While at the same time, she is making bad choices as to which friends she really should trust!

Burke even throws in a bad guy who tries to turn to a good guy! Readers will have to keep their eyes on every single character to follow who "coulda" dun it and who really did! Suspense, intrigue, and lots of confusing signals reign to make this a novel that keeps readers in suspense to the very end!

I was impressed with her ability to weave in important clues without really making a big "to-do" about it. And the murders that happened? Well, they only served to cause further confusion. Finally, only at the end was it apparent what had led to the surprising climax...

Try this latest from Alafair Burke and see why I'm highly recommending!


Alafair Burke is the author of "two power house series" (Sun-Sentinel) that have earned her a reputation for creating strong, believable, and eminently likable female characters, such as NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher and Portland Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid. Alafair's novels grow out of her experience as a prosecutor in America's police precincts and criminal courtrooms, and have been featured by The Today Show, People Magazine, The New York Times, MSNBC, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Chicago Sun-Times. Dennis Lehane has called her "one of the finest young crime writers working today."
A graduate of Stanford Law School and a former Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon, Alafair is now a Professor of Law at Hofstra Law School, where she teaches criminal law and procedure.
She lives in New York City and spends too much time on Facebook and Twitter, but has no plans to quit.
Learn more about Alafair at www.alafairburke.com

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