Monday, June 23, 2008


Ellie Hatcher is a young New York detective working scams and robberies when a special request is made for her to work a homicide case....possibly a serial homicide case. But Ellie also comes with baggage. Her father was a police detective who supposedly committed suicide over a serial murder investigation he conducted years before. Ellie's still not convinced it was suicide, though.

In Alafair Burke's first Ellie Hatcher novel, Dead Connection, Ellie is called up for a case that involves Internet Dating, and she enters the homicide squad to snickering whispers of "Date Bait." But that doesn't deter Ellie; quite the contrary. She's even more determined to do a damn fine job.

If you've read my reviews before, you know that two factors continually come up when I comment on a book. The first is characterization. If a book has poor characterization, it doesn't matter how fabulous the plot is. I'm a character person. And this book ABOUNDS in character. Ellie is fascinating - Ellie is REAL! I love the fact that Ellie makes mistakes. She's a young detective and she makes mistakes that inexperienced people make - forgetting to turn her phone off, not checking her blind spot when she's in a tense, stressful situation. Both mistakes are major blunders and are very costly.

Another thing I enjoyed about Ellie is her outlook on the Internet dating scene. This exchange she has with her brother is priceless:

Ellie rolled her eyes. 'Well, at least you include your own age. My litmus test - the men I'm crossing off - are the ones who cap their age range below their own age. Half the men on here, no matter how old they are, say their perfect woman is somewhere between her midtwenties and exactly one year younger than he is.' She continued crossing off names, clearly disgusted. 'I mean, what is it about the midtwenties?'

Jess's eyes glazed over as he hung his tongue from his mouth in mock bliss. Ellie pretended to shoot a roundhouse kick in his direction.

'All right, Gloria Steinem. But I bet you a million bucks that the women on there are just as superficial. They're just screening for different qualities. Money, power, prestige. It's market forces, little sis.'

'On that very romantic - and totally depressing - note, I think you've convinced me that my online surfing should remain strictly professional.'

Now, if you've never had the privilege of experiencing on-line dating yourself, you probably don't really appreciate this exchange. But, I've experienced it, and I'm relating with Ellie here - big time! I'm sure some of you guys can equally relate with Jess's argument as well. Being able to relate with a scenario in the book hammers home the realism for me.

O.k., so Alafair Burke mastered the art of next factor - predictability. After all, how can a suspense novel be suspenseful if you can predict everything that's going to happen, right? Didn't predict a gosh darn thing in this book! The reader is fed the facts in little snippets just like Ellie and McIlroy would discover them. The reader has to fit the disordered puzzle pieces together just like the detectives would. And this is one of those puzzles that you can't figure out until every last piece is in its rightful place...and believe me, some of the pieces look like they could fit where they don't belong, creating a whole different picture. This was a book I sat with for hours because I couldn't put it down. I HAD to find out what was going to happen! If Internet dating didn't spook you BEFORE this book, you'll definitely be spooked after!

Throughout the book there are great lines that also reflect Burke's sense of humor. I loved the end of the novel when Charlie Dixon asks Ellie, "You sure about this?" And Ellie's response is "Does Britney Spears like Cheetos?" If you haven't read the book, you can't appreciate this exchange. I don't want to spoil it for you, but take my word that it's significant to the book, and it got a half chuckle/half "awwwwe" from me.

Another chuckle came earlier in the novel when Ellie calls a detective "Robi --"..."Just call me Dave" from...yep, you guessed it, New Iberia, Louisiana! Gotta love it!

It took me a little while to get to this book, but since I waited to read it, I don't have to wait as long for the follow-up. The next Ellie Hatcher comes out in August and I CAN'T wait. This was a GREAT suspense novel.


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