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Sunday 14 December 2014

‘Dead Connection’ by Alafair Burke

Published by Faber & Faber in paperback,
2 October 2014.
ISBN: 978-0-571-32115-5

The kind of traffic-stopping looks that do well in a beauty pageant can be an asset in some circumstances, but they’re maybe not so useful to a policewoman. They’re a burden Ellie Hatcher, rookie detective and lead character in Dead Connection, has to carry as she forges a career in the NYPD.

Faced with a possible serial killer who is targeting women through a dating website, Ellie and her eccentric new work partner meet a series of dead ends and resistance as they pick apart the few clues they manage to unearth.

It’s all a lot more complicated than it appears: it’s far from obvious who is on the side of the angels, and the true villains take a long time to emerge. Drugs, corruption, money laundering and computer hacking all form part of a complex web of intrigue, and eventually it’s left to Ellie to uncover the truth – though the nature of truth in the eyes of some of her fellow detectives is another conundrum in itself.

Alafair Burke is an author who has been on my must-read list for some time, and she more than lives up to hopes and expectations in this pacy, highly readable book. Villains and heroes alike are complex and flawed, and have that quality of a life which continues off the page. New York, the city Ellie has fallen in love with, is almost a character in itself, with its sleazy nightclubs and smart bars, not to mention the malodorous streets, dangerous to the unwary, teeming with life both high and low.

I was fortunate that my first taste of the author’s work was the first in a new series. Ellie Hatcher has a lot going for her: a private life that promises to become more interesting as it develops, and a robustly straightforward approach to her career which I have no doubt will inform future cases she becomes involved in. There’s also a small cast of recurring characters with plenty of potential of trip her up as more of her complicated past history reveals itself and unfolds.

I look forward to following Ellie Hatcher’s progress.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Alafair Burke is a graduate of Stanford Law School and a former Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon, she is now a Professor of Law at Hofstra Law School, where she teaches criminal law and procedure.  She 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.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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