Monday, December 3, 2012

book review: 212 by Alafair Burke

The backstory: 212 is the third novel in Alafair Burke's series featuring NYPD homicide detective Ellie Hatcher (my reviews of Dead Connection and Angel's Tip.)

The basics: A bodyguard for a Donald Trump-like real estate magnate is found murdered in a penthouse apartment at 212, a high profile address that shares its numbers with New York City's original area code. Next NYU student Megan Gunther finds threats about her, along with her detailed schedule, posted on a campus gossip website and fears for her safety.

My thoughts: After adoring Angel's Tip, I went into 212 with high expectations. I'm thrilled to report 212 is even better than its predecessor. Burke skillfully weaves multiple storylines into a narrative that is complex and smart but never overwhelming or confusing. The moving parts never become difficult to track, even as the plot's complexity increases.

Ellie Hatcher is also at her best here. I didn't adore Ellie in Dead Connection, but I did in Angel's Tip. With 212, my love for Ellie (and her partner J.J. Rogan) is in full bloom. Part of the magic of 212 is seeing the plots and narrative arcs cross and weave one another, and I wouldn't dream of spoiling those intersections. I will, however, applaud Alafair Burke for her ability to be inspired by news headlines. She combines pieces of stories that will be familiar to many readers, but she skillfully uses them as stepping stones to more fascinating possibilities than those that did happen. It's simple, really: if you like contemporary mysteries, find time for this series.

Favorite passage: (redacted because it would spoil much of the book.)

The verdict: 212 is Alafair Burke at her very best. It's a top notch police procedural filled with smart twists and turns, and Burke's writing shines as much as her fully developed characters do. After Angel's Tip wowed me, 212 proved itself to be Burke's best mystery yet. Highly recommended, but do read Angel's Tip first.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 368 pages
Publication date: March 23, 2010 
Source: publisher/purchased* (*purchased when it was offered free in the Kindle store--thanks, Harper Collins!)

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy 212 from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version--only $5.69!)

Also by Alafair Burke: the Samantha Kincaid series (Judgment CallsMissing Justice, and Close Case) plus the stand-alone thriller Long Gone.

 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. I have Alafair Burke on my list of authors to check out because of your reviews. :)

    1. I hope you like her as much as I do! I'm reading Never Tell now--the last published one. I've flown through all of her novels this year:-)

  2. Oh, this does sound like it would be an incredible read, and one that I would love. So glad to hear that it kept you in anticipation and wonder. Books like that are hard for me to find in this genre. Excellent review!

    1. Zibilee, I've realized I prefer 'traditional' mysteries to cozies. I like following a crime from the point of view of police (or sometimes attorneys.) I'm now seeking out more police procedurals, as I have only one Burke left to read!


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