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review 2015-01-21 07:23
Hard to Put Down
Angel's Tip by Burke, Alafair [Harper,2008] (Hardcover) [Hardcover] - Burke
The way that Dead Connection ended, I figured this one would be Ellie going back home for a while, and was pleased to see I was wrong.  I really appreciated the way that Burke fed us details on Ellie's trip to Kansas to investigate her father's death in bits and pieces rather than in one big dump of information somewhere along the way and/or a novel-length tale.  I'm sure at some point we will get a lot more time and attention paid to that story, but for now, I'm satisfied keeping the focus on Ellie's work with the NYPD.
Instead, we find our detective thrown into another high-profile murder case --  this time, a pretty co-ed visiting the Big Apple from Indiana ends up murdered after a night out on the town.  The evidence seems to point at the kind of guy you want it to be (especially if you're a Law & Order viewer): some young Wall Street type with more money and good looks than sense.  But Ellie, naturally, stumbles onto something else.  Something big -- that goes back years.
And well, things proceed from there as they do in this type of book.  Again, Burke had me fooled, and I didn't see the solution until she wanted me to -- but once she did, everything fit just like it should.  Nothing spectacular here, but very satisfactory.
There were a couple of characters who were clearly introduced as redshirts (to borrow from another genre), interestingly drawn -- moreso than many authors would do.  I genuinely felt bad for one of them towards the end of their life, like I would have a major character I'd spent a book or two getting to know.
I thought the characters of Ellie; her brother, Jess; and her boyfriend with the name I can't remember, were essentially who they were last time -- a little more fleshed out.  The highlight for me was Ellie's new partner, the oddly (but believably) well-to-do Detective J. J. Rogan.  I enjoyed him as a character, as well as his interaction with Ellie and hope Burke doesn't replace him too soon (not sure why after only two books I assume that the role of Ellie's partner will be adjacent to a revolving door, but I do). 
This book wasn't a lean-forward, turn the pages as fast as you can thriller.  But man, it was hard to put down, and was just so easy to go from chapter to chapter to "just one more...".  Between her ease of style and likability of characters, this is just one of those books that you don't want to put down.  Not the greatest mystery novel I read last year year, but it was one of the smoothest reads. 
Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2015/01/20/angels-tip-by-alafair-burke
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review 2012-11-16 00:00
Never Tell (Ellie Hatcher Series #4)
Never Tell - Alafair Burke In many ways, Alafair Burke’s Never Tell is a lot like the television series Law and Order and its many spin-offs. There is a crime that is duplicitous in its simplicity. The police assign the case to a familiar detective pairing. The detectives are sent down many different avenues in their investigation, forcing them to reassess the facts gathered multiple times. There is tension as the two detectives disagree about certain aspects of the case, and they anger key players along the way. Ultimately, the detectives find the right path and solve the mystery, allowing the victim’s family the chance for justice and closure. It is a formula that works exceedingly well, as seen by how success the series is and how often it has been copied in print and on the big and small screens alike. Much like individual Law and Order episodes though, without something truly unexpected – a completely unforeseen plot twist, a nefarious and ultimately memorable villain, a death of one of the heroes – such stories are easily read and easily forgotten. Never Tell falls into this latter category.While any death, especially of a child, is tragic, Julia is not the most sympathetic of victims. The phrase “overly precocious teenagers from Manhattan’s most privileged families” is a major clue as to what to expect from the cast of characters. Rich, spoiled teenagers who believe that they are too worldly and knowledgeable compared to everyone else, especially adults not in their milieu, is a common plot device – almost too common as these types of teens have lost their edge or ability to shock. Julia and her antics, as discovered through the investigative process, is nothing more than a clichéd rich teen harboring a major secret. It begs the question – are there any teenagers who do not have some sort of secret life about which the adults are clueless? It is not that Never Tell is a bad murder mystery. Again, the comparison to Law and Order is apt. The series is popular for a reason; it fulfills that basic human prurience that makes reality shows so successful. Yet, after so many seasons, it is nigh impossible to distinguish among the individual episodes. It contains all of the elements that make such novels compelling. The issue lies with the fact that there is nothing about Never Tell that allows it to rise above of the rest of its genre. It is too easy to forget major plot points or confuse it with other similar novels. Enjoyable and yet utterly forgettable, Never Tell is best left to true fans of the genre.Acknowledgments: Thank you to HarperCollins for my review copy!
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review 2010-07-21 00:00
212 - Alafair Burke Another winner from Burke. If you like Law & Order (particularly L&O:SVU), you'll love this series. Can't wait for the next release.
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