The basics: Julia Whitmire, a wealthy, talented, and beautiful sixteen-year-old, is found dead in her bathtub. The cops arriving on the scene classify it as a homicide: her wrists are slit and she left behind a suicide note. Her mother, however, is insistent Julia was murdered and persuades the NYPD to look into. Detective Ellie Hatcher doesn't buy it, but her partner J.J. Rogan is more open-minded.
My thoughts: If I had to describe Alafair Burke's novels in one phrase, it would be "a thinking person's well-written police procedurals." The thrill of the chase cannot be underestimated, but Burke also makes me think about life along the way. She also captures the essence of New York City beautifully:
"Two million people buzzing around on just twenty-three square miles of land bred a certain culture: efficiency in moving from point A to point B; no eye contact or small talk; no connection to the people one passed on the way. And along with that culture came a distinct feeling of anonymity. But the sense of anonymity was not the same thing as actual privacy."These themes of privacy, anonymity and secrets run throughout this novel. As the web of truths and lies becomes more complicated, Burke uses the mystery to ponder the questions of who knows us best and what clues we leave behind while begging the ultimate question: can we really know the definitive answer? Julia Whitmire's world is more complicated than it initially appears, and while I correctly guessed some of the developments, Burke once again wowed me with the complexity of her plot and the level of satisfaction felt with the conclusion.
Favorite passage: They both believed they could learn at least one interesting thing about human nature from any person they encountered."
The verdict: Never Tell is Alafair Burke's best mystery yet. At first, the case seems deceptively straight-forward and I was surprised by the relatively small number of characters. As the action progressed, however, I was again wowed by how intricately Burke can build a plot. They webs and layers of this one astonished me, even when I correctly guessed a couple of them. Alafair Burke writes contemporary detective-focused mysteries at their very best.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 368 pages
Publication date: June 19, 2012
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Never Tell from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version.)
Also by Alafair Burke: the Samantha Kincaid series (Judgment Calls, Missing Justice, and Close Case) plus the stand-alone thriller Long Gone.
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