A re­lat­able, su­perb thriller

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - READS - Re­view by OLINE H. COGDILL

Alafair Burke Harper, ti

THE end of a re­la­tion­ship evokes many emo­tions – re­lief, re­gret, guilt, shame, to name just a few. Those feel­ings play a paramount part in Alafair Burke’s su­perb stand- alone thriller The Ex. In this cere­bral mys­tery, Burke de­liv­ers a multi- lay­ered plot that ex­plores re­la­tion­ships and ma­nip­u­la­tion in a rich char­ac­ter study.

New York City de­fense at­tor­ney Olivia Ran­dall has felt a tor­rent of feel­ings since she cal­lously ended her re­la­tion­ship years ago with her ex- fi­ance Jack Har­ris, who even­tu­ally mar­ried a teacher, Molly. But Jack’s hap­pily ever af­ter ended three years ago when Molly was killed in a mass shoot­ing.

Now Jack’s 15- year- old daugh­ter, Buck­ley, reaches out to Olivia. Jack has been im­pli­cated in a triple homi­cide; one of the vic­tims may have been partly re­spon­si­ble for Molly’s death. Against her boss’ ad­vice, Olivia takes his case, hop­ing to clear Jack’s name.

An elu­sive piece of ev­i­dence is the iden­tity of a stranger whom Jack was to have been meet­ing the day of the mur­der. As the case con­tin­ues, Olivia be­gins to won­der how well she knows Jack – has this sen­si­tive, all- around nice guy changed through the years? Or was his per­son­al­ity just a fa­cade of a darker side?

Burke’s su­perb grasp of the in­tri­ca­cies of the hu­man heart is aug­mented by the in­tri­cate sus­pense she re­al­is­ti­cally builds through­out The Ex. Any­one who has a for­mer boyfriend or girl­friend will be able to re­late to Olivia’s sit­u­a­tion.

Burke con­tin­ues her affin­ity for strong char­ac­ters in The Ex. The self- con­fi­dent Olivia is used to han­dling dif­fi­cult celebrity clients, but finds her­self on shaky ground while han­dling a case this per­sonal.

And like Jack, she also is full of se­crets and pre­sent­ing a dif­fer­ent face to the pub­lic than when she is at home.

The Ex doesn’t let up un­til the fi­nal, be­liev­able twist, se­cur­ing once again Burke’s solid tal­ents for sto­ry­telling. – Sun Sentinel/ Tribune News Ser­vice

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