Monday, April 4, 2011

Review: Long Gone by Alafair Burke

  • Author:  Alafair Burke
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (June 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061999180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061999185

Product Description

After a layoff and months of struggling, Alice Humphrey finally lands her dream job managing a new art gallery in Manhattan’s trendy Meatpacking District. 
According to Drew Campbell, the well-suited corporate representative who hires her, the gallery is a passion project for its anonymous, wealthy, and eccentric owner. Drew assures Alice that the owner will be hands off, allowing her to run the gallery on her own. Her friends think it sounds too good to be true, but Alice sees a perfect opportunity to make a name for herself beyond the shadow of her famous father, an award-winning and controversial film maker.

Everything is perfect until the morning Alice arrives at work to find the gallery gone—the space stripped bare as if it had never existed—and Drew Campbell’s dead body on the floor. Overnight, Alice’s dream job has vanished, and she finds herself at the center of police attention with nothing to prove her innocence. The phone number Drew gave her links back to a disposable phone.

The artist whose work she displayed doesn’t seem to exist. And the dead man she claims is Drew has been identified as someone else.

When police discover ties between the gallery and a missing girl, Alice knows she’s been set up. Now she has to prove it—a dangerous search for answers that will entangle her in a dark, high-tech criminal conspiracy and force her to unearth long-hidden secrets involving her own family… secrets that could cost Alice her life.

Amazon Exclusive: Michael Connelly Reviews Long Gone

Michael Connelly’s Edgar Award-winning first novel, The Black Echo, was published in 1992 and based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles. Since then he has written more than 18 novels, the most recent of which is The Fifth Witness.
You know how the song goes--“If I can make it here, I’ll make it anywhere.” The anthem for a city and a state of mind, powered by the voice of its own son, Frank Sinatra, even if technically he came from across the river. New York, New York. It is truly the first song on the soundtrack of the city. And it points up the risk and reward of living in the greatest city in the world.

Well, what about the risks and rewards in writing a novel about the greatest city in the world? To me the challenge would be intimidating, even daunting, before I got the first word down on the first page. But not to Alafair Burke. With Long Gone she makes the city her own. She takes New York with a knowing and confidant hand, folding its teeming streets into character and plot in a story that is never less than gripping.

At center you have Alice Humphrey. She is the daughter of privilege in a city that doesn’t pay much mind to that privilege. She’s on her own and that is the beating heart of this book. Alice on her own. Burke constructs this book with the precision of a watchmaker. It is a contraption piece that closes tightly around Alice and then we are with her as she investigates the set up and finds her way to safety.

I am familiar with most of Burke’s work and I think Alice is her best heroine yet. She connects with us on so many levels. She is an everywoman cornered by forces she doesn’t recognize or understand in a city with too many back alleys and secrets to ever know. She is from a family that holds secrets from her as well as the world. But no matter. She is relentless in her pursuit of the truth, whichever way it is finally told. And in that we connect to her, admire her, like her. We feel for Alice Humphrey and want to be there when she sees it all through.

That is the writer’s most difficult task, building the bridge of empathy between reader and protagonist. Burke does it here with a character who is persistent in simply refusing to be a victim. Don’t we all wish we were the same.

Though any writer will flat out tell you that the easier it looks the harder it is to get on the page, Alafair Burke makes this one look like a walk in the park. Frank Sinatra would certainly be proud. Start spreading the news.

About the Author

ALAFAIR BURKE is the bestselling author of six novels, including 212, Angel’s Tip, and Dead Connection in the Ellie Hatcher series. A former prosecutor, she now teaches criminal Law and lives in Manhattan. Long Gone is her first stand-alone thriller.

My Review

Awesome book Miss Alafair!  I just loved it!  I couldn't put it down; what an well plotted suspenseful novel!  As the daughter of the greatest living mystery writer, James Lee Burke, Alafair has big shoes to fill! And she does with this stand alone novel featuring Alice Humphrey who naively takes on a position running a new gallery for a man she meets at a gallery opening.  The charming Drew Campbell draws her into this web of deceit and intrigue that kept me enthralled from beginning to end.  There is a great side story as well regarding a missing New Jersey girl.  New York City is a main character in this novel as well.  Ms. Burke obviously know it well.

I loved that Ms. Burke is very current technologically.  I loved that she demonstrates the perils of today's social networking sites like Facebook and how if people aren't careful they can expose themselves to all kinds of trouble.

And I loved the reference to just having read a novel in which the main character bribes hotel clerks in order to use rooms briefly....Lee Child...Jack Reacher...loved it!

At the end of the novel, Ms. Burke thanks all of her readers including those who follow her web site and follow her on Facebook....and my name was listed there!  Alafair often asked her followers advice about different things she was working on in her novel and it was fun to chime in!  Big Thrill!

Totally absolutely recommend this book!  It publishes in June so what a great summer read!

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