Alafair Burke

Long Gone

"... some beautiful twists to prevent the reader from guessing too much too soon."


After being unemployed for several months, Alice Humphrey gets her dream job as manager of a Manhattan art gallery in a trendy district. Her recruiter, Drew Campbell, informs her the gallery is a passion for the reclusive and nameless owner.

Arriving for work one morning Alice walks unaware into a nightmare. The gallery is deserted apart from Drew Campbell. However, he is dead. Murdered by foes unknown and before she knows it Alice is at the centre of the police's investigation as every last piece of evidence points to her being the culprit.

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This book is the kind written by authors such as Simon Kernick and Linwood Barclay where the hero is an innocent caught up in events which are out of their control. Burke has a sublime knack of making you like her characters whether they are good or evil and you can really empathise with her lead, Alice. There is a long build-up to the moment when Alice discovers the body and some may criticise the long delay when other authors would have had the find on page 2 not some hundred pages later. However, the decision to hold off with the murder which precipitates the headlong adventure gives the author room to flex her literary muscle and draw out the characters and their respective relationships, dispensing with the need for pace-slowing flashbacks or explanations. Each character is drawn with a consummate skill, although none other than Alice and Jeff really got under my skin. The plot is straightforward enough with some beautiful twists to prevent the reader from guessing too much too soon. The prose is a joy to behold and the simple sub-plot of Alice standing on her own feet without her father's help is one which speaks volume for the author and her own determination not to trade on her father's name. (Her father is the internationally acclaimed author James Lee Burke!)

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