Tuesday, June 19, 2012

NEVER TELL - Alafair Burke

First line: "It has been twenty years, but at three-fourteen this morning I screamed in my sleep."

When Ellie Hatcher and J.J. Rogan are called out to the home of sixteen-year-old Julia Whitmire, they are convinced it's a suicide scene. Or at least Ellie is convinced it's a suicide scene. The young girl's wealthy family seems to be pulling strings to get special treatment, so they the NYPD detectives through the motions of investigating the "crime" scene. The EMTs, the coroner, the officers and the detectives are all certain this is a suicide. But money can open many doors, so Hatcher and Rogan find themselves investigating the case as though it is a homicide.

Meanwhile, Ellie finds her relationship with ADA Max Donovan hitting a bump in the road when they clash over the idea of children and living together.

NEVER TELL is Alafair Burke's fourth book in the Ellie Hatcher series. With each book her complexity of character as well as complexity of plot have advanced to new levels, and this wasn't a person who began writing flat. NEVER TELL examines a cross section of the diversity of New York City, both in its inhabitants and its habitations. Burke is able to flesh out her characters so that readers can empathize and make connections with them, no matter how different they may be. From homeless teens to convicted murderers. Burke reminds us that sometimes things - and people - can be both "black AND white;" they don't have to be either/or and they don't have to be a shade of gray. Burke loves the many splendors of her city and its people; that shines through in NEVER TELL.

NEVER TELL is definitely Burke's  most ambitions plot to date. The interweaving of the plot points is meticulously constructed, producing a quick-paced, suspenseful novel. Readers will want to pick this one up early in the day or plan on reading through the night. It's a just-one-more-chapter kind of read.

Burke's writing is lean and tight. She draws resplendent imagery, cajoling the reader into her world but also trusting the reader to be an active part of that world, conjuring up their own background and knowledge. This allows the reader to be an active participant in Burke's story and it allows her to focus on the pace of the plot, not developing superfluous detail - that may well be beautiful but works against the book by weighing it down. Prose can be simultaneously sparse and beautiful, which is essential in this genre. Alafair Burke has nailed the equation for a thought-provoking, rapid-fire, premiere reading experience.

And this wouldn't be an Alafair Burke novel without a significant book title. NEVER TELL takes on various levels of meaning in the novel. Secrets are, of course, front and center, but what about those facets of life we just never talk about? And while many of us believe we know ourselves, you can "never tell" what might be lurking around the next corner of life to change all that.

As I read more and more, experience more authors and add more to my plate of obligations, the number of people I can drop everything for and read diminishes. But Alafair Burke continues to stay at the top of my list of authors I cannot miss when they publish a new book. I eagerly anticipate each new book and greedily devour them once they're in my paws.

If for some reason you've read my blog for years and heard my repeated proselytizing for her books and you still haven't picked one up yet, I encourage you to MAKE HASTE! NEVER TELL is out today; it really is her best book to date and I'm so proud of her.

NEVER TELL is available from Harper in hardcover (ISBN: 9780061999161) - and pssst, Murder by the Book has a cool offer going on right now. NEVER TELL is also available as an audiobook narrated by Eliza Foss from Brilliance Audio (ISBN: 978146920685).

Other fun stuff. The Duffer Awards are still going on. Have you voted today?  212, the third Ellie Hatcher novel is available as an ebook for 99 cents right now on Kindle and Nook. And don't forget that Alafair is on Facebook and Twitter.

I'll be headed to Mystery Lovers Bookshop on July 11th to see Alafair in person. If you're in the neighborhood of Pittsburgh, why don't you come too? If that's not  your neck of the woods, check out Alafair's full schedule and see if she'll be near you. Make sure to ask her if she had a three-legged raccoon growing up. ;-) Alafair's also going to be doing a live webchat, so if you're not able to make an event in person you can join Alafair for that. I'll post more details when it gets closer.

Because I make so much noise, the nice folks at TLC Blog Tours let me kick off Alafair's blog tour - actually I think they just wanted to shut me up. Check out their site for future stops and see what other folks have to say about NEVER TELL.


Perry St Lawyer June 19, 2012 at 9:40 AM  

I will get this book, maybe on audio. Did anyone else notice the reference to the "shade of gray"?

caite June 21, 2012 at 8:44 PM  

I recently read 212....I need to read more of her books.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours June 22, 2012 at 1:48 PM  

I have to admit that I haven't read any of her books, but it looks like I'm REALLY missing out!

Thanks for the great recommendation and for being on the tour.

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