Alafair Burke’s NEVER TELL marks the return of NYPD detective Ellie Hatcher, following last year’s amazing stand-alone, LONG GONE. Ellie and her partner, JJ Rogan, are called to a palatial apartment where sixteen year-old Julia Whitmire is dead. Her mother insists she was murdered, but Ellie is certain they’re investigating a suicide. As they learn more about Julie and her privileged life, nothing is what it first appears.
As Ellie and JJ travel from Julia’s polished Manhattan’s townhouse to the decidedly grungier Greenwich Village following the trail of her life, it appears that absolute power does corrupt absolutely, and money certainly changes everything.
If you’ve read other posts here, you’ve likely noticed that I’m a fan of—as in, fanatical about—police procedurals. I find few greater joys in life than a great cop story, with characters I care about and a story that I wish would never end. I’m also picky when it comes to these tales…not all of them ring true, and the characters are sometimes far too perfect for comfort (I’m not a fan of cop characters who make nary a mistake and never question their own judgment). NEVER TELL scores on both these fronts.
So please listen when I say that NEVER TELL is one of the finest police procedurals I’ve ever read.
A good police story becomes a great one when it is more than whodunit, and includes elements prevalent in our society today of which we don’t necessarily take notice, but should. NEVER TELL does exactly this; I’m not going to detail exactly how because I don’t want to impinge on your enjoyment of the story as it unfolds, but suffice to say that this tale is as deep as it is broad. Alafair Burke’s father, James Lee Burke, is a master at integrating sharp social commentary with gripping stories, and this is a gift he has clearly passed on to his daughter.
Ellie Hatcher and JJ Rogan have come into their collective own, and have a personal and professional relationship that rings true. Ellie has never been perfect, and in this story, she questions herself on every level, making her as fully realized a character as I’ve had the pleasure to meet.
Should you remain unconvinced, look outside…see summer out there? While it is a story for the ages, NEVER TELL is also an ideal summer read. It’s not fluffy, but it moves at a breakneck pace. It might deprive you of some sleep, but you won’t mind. Oh, and just about every book reviewing venue worth its salt has praised it to the rafters. The only downside? You’ll be anxious as all hell to read Alafair Burke’s next book.
Author’s website: www.alafairburke.com
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