Monday, July 9, 2012

book review: Missing Justice by Alafair Burke

The backstory: Missing Justice is Alafair Burke's second novel in the Samantha Kincaid series. I thoroughly enjoyed the first title in the series, Judgment Calls (my review.)

The basics: The action in Missing Justice picks up one month after the events of Judgment Calls. Samantha is now a prosecutor in the Major Crimes Unit, and her first case there comes sooner than she expects when she gets a late night call telling her a judge is missing.

My thoughts: Partially because so little time elapsed between these two books, I was glad to read them close together. Of course, I was also eager to read Missing Justice because I adore Alafair Burke. The mystery in this novel began early, yet Burke still does an excellent job of teaching the reader about law, procedure and Portland without slowing down the action: "Portland has low violent crime and high property crime, driven primarily by a large population of street kids and drug addicts." (Although I must confess, the smart ass in me immediately quipped, what about Gretchen Lowell?)

One of the things I love most about this series (even only two books in) is how well I feel like I know Samantha. I love her. I love that she listens to Lyle Lovett cds (I'm a pretty big fan too) and reads mysteries. There are wonderful lines like this one:
"You believe in coincidences, Kincaid?” One of my favorite crime writers says there’s no such thing, but I’d never thought much about it. “Sure,” I said, “when I need to."
For the astute reader, there are layers of meaning and fun in that line; for the oblivious, it's still relevant to the story.

Missing Justice is an intriguing thriller, and it's one I thoroughly enjoyed, if a little less than Judgment Calls. There's something magical about the second book in a series, though, that makes the reading experience more enjoyable: you start to identify the author's quirks and habits. I start to see patterns in her pacing and writing, and I'm curious if those will continue.

Favorite passage:  "This conversation was echoing some of the broader debates we’d had about the allocation of law enforcement resources. I knew how frustrated Dad was, for example, that some of the highest-profile white-collar perps remained unindicted years after their scandals erupted. And I knew he saw a link between corporate practices that thwart the American dreams of everyday workers and the desperation that causes people to rob, sell drugs, or even kill, like Melvin Jackson. To Dad, economic crimes and street crimes were inseparable, each feeding the continuation of the other."

The verdict: Although the mystery is not quite as compelling as the one in Judgment Calls, Missing Justice still shines. Samantha Kincaid is a heroine to root for, and her actions inside the courtroom, in the filed, and at home are all equally entertaining in Burke's sophomore novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 352 pages
Publication date: June 2, 2004
Source: purchased for my Kindle

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Missing Justice from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle edition.)

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I am so glad that you enjoyed this one, and might have to look for the first in this series. It seems like it would be a good escapist read for me, and I am finding out that I like this genre a lot more than I thought I did! Great review on this one today, and I loved your choice of favorite quote!


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