The Ex

The Ex

Special MBR No. 5

by John Dwaine McKenna & Lora Brown

This week’s Mysterious Book Report is the second in our special series which features Lora Brown, who picked the novel to review and gave it her stamp of approval.  After reading her notes and the novel, I’m in absolute agreement.

The Ex, (Harper Collins, $26.99, 283 pages, ISBN 978-0-06-239048-6) by Alafair Burke is by far and away the best of her eleven novels and one million or so words of crime fiction.  It’s a murder mystery that starts with the throttle wide-open on the first page and never lets up until the conclusion.  When the novel begins, we meet Jack Harris as he’s being interviewed by the NYPD about a triple homicide that’s only hours old.  Jack just happened to be in the vicinity at the same time the killings took place.  He’s a renowned writer, a straight- arrow, and a single father who’s raising a teenaged daughter by himself after her mother was killed in a mass shooting at Penn Station in New York City ten years ago.  It’s only a coincidence that the father of the demented young man who killed Jack’s wife Molly–the same man Jack tried unsuccessfully to sue– is one of the three dead bodies from the waterfront crime scene.  That’s where Jack went to hook up with a mystery woman named Madeline.  It’s all plausible.  Isn’t it?  Jack’s a good guy.  Right?  He’s a victim of circumstance, that’s all.  In the wrong place at the wrong time.  But when the cops take Jack downtown for some ‘routine questions, just to clear up a few things,’ his daughter Buckley freaks out, and calls his ex . . . Olivia Randall.  She’s one of New York City’s brightest and best-known criminal defense attorneys.  She’s also the woman who broke his heart and upended his world twenty years ago.  They haven’t spoken since.  Until now.  Convinced she still knows him, marinating in guilt, and over the vehement objections of her mentor and law partner, Olivia accepts Jack’s case.  She agrees to defend him, even though the little-voice in her head keeps screaming out alarms.

All the above takes place in just the first  dozen chapters of this finely-crafted and wickedly complex novel with a large cast of characters who’ll keep you enthralled, entertained and gobbling up pages until the stunning conclusion.  Alafair Burke has been called a whip-smart novelist.  Read The Ex and find out why.

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The Ex


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