Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Ex – Alafair Burke

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction

Those of you who read my blog regularly have probably realised that my preferred location for crime fiction is the UK and although I’m not adverse to fiction from other lands per se, when it comes to how crimes are investigated and tried, I tend towards the UK. I have however recently got (belatedly) hooked on the TV series, The Good Wife, which has given me my sole grounding on the roles of the US defence and prosecution attorneys. So when I opened The Ex and was immediately introduced to the defence attorney, Olivia Randall I felt at home. Olivia is rung by the teenage Buckley Harris to ask her to help her father who is talking to the New York Police Department following a shooting in a nearby park.

Olivia had been in a serious relationship with said Jack Harris and has harboured guilt about the end of their relationship ever since. It is quickly established that Jack was at the park, he’s been caught on CCTV and the police soon come up with what seems like an excellent motive, one of the victims was the father of the boy who shot his beloved wife Molly in a mass shooting three years earlier. Jack with other families caught up in this earlier shooting were suing the father, but this had just been dismissed as no case to answer. Jack is confident all will be ok, after all he has an alibi of sorts, a good if totally bizarre reason to be at the park. Surely this misunderstanding will soon be cleared up?

This novel had me longing to know more with enough dilemmas to keep me questioning, not only whether Jack was guilty or not but also how wise Olivia was to take on the case given their shared background, albeit one that had ended on a sour note some twenty years before. The pace is good with the revelations if not coming thick and fast, in a steady drip so that if you are like me your opinion will change about the main protagonists a number of times before the finale. But best of all for me, was the courtroom drama which was a mirror image of an episode of The Good Wife with Olivia coming up with alternative scenarios to ensure that, despite the seemingly iron-clad evidence the prosecution have unveiled, that Jack will go home to care for his teenage daughter Buckley. All of this isn’t helped that her own investigations make Olivia herself wonder how well she really knows Jack now, and maybe how well she ever knew him.

I’m not going to pretend that I particularly liked many of the characters, they all, including Olivia had something ‘off’ about them, but I don’t read books to become friends with those who inhabit the pages, I read to be entertained, and this book gave me bucket loads of entertainment as well as a mystery to be solved. And yes, for once I had it worked out, not too early on, but satisfyingly not just before it was finally revealed so as well as a cracking good read, I get a pat on the back!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Faber and Faber who granted my wish on NetGalley which allowed me to read this complex drama that certainly kept my brain working at trying to solve the mystery while giving me a great courtroom drama.

The Ex was published on 2 February 2016 so if this sounds like one you’d enjoy, I suggest you get a copy.


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

25 thoughts on “The Ex – Alafair Burke

  1. Ha, that must be one of my favourite quotes from you ever: ‘but I don’t read books to become friends with those who inhabit the pages’! I think I will borrow that every time I hear someone complain that the characters are unlikeable…


  2. “I don’t read books to become friends with those who inhabit the pages” Thank you for this 😀
    I’ve already said it many times but I’m still hoping my better half stumbles across a comment page or receives the mental waves I’m sending and understands this book would be the perfect Valentine’s gift (we don’t usually do Valentine’s but every excuse to get books is fine) so I’ll say it one more time: I need to read this!
    I tried watching The Good Wife but I couldn’t bring myself to finish the first season.


  3. I couldn’t agree more, Cleo, but you put it so well! Not all books have characters you’d want to be friends with in real life. But that’s not the point; the point is that the characters should keep one’s interest and the plot should, too. And it sounds as though this did, with a solid pace and some interesting questions. Glad you enjoyed it.


    1. Thank you Margot – that comment seems to have struck a chord with a few people. I think as long as the characters behave in a way that is true to their construct, it can work but there does have to be a solid plot.


  4. Yes, sometimes I am absolutely fine with not liking any of the characters overly much. And sometimes, I want to like them and am put off the whole story when I can’t find someone to be ‘friends’ with. It’s a mystery as to how I’ll react to the characters – as in I couldn’t predict ahead of time. Good to know this one works well and that the courtroom scenes are interesting. I’ve meant to read a book by this author for years and years. And she is an attorney herself, as well as being the daughter of noted author, James Lee Burke. Nice review – which makes me want to try The Good Wife too. Haven’t watched that one yet.


  5. I just downloaded this one this week, so I am eager to read it, sooner rather than later. And I LOVE The Good Wife! I am always so sad when the show goes on hiatus, which always seems to happen too often.

    I love murders/mysteries set in the UK, too, and I’m now becoming familiar with how those detectives work.

    Thanks for sharing!


    1. The advantage of coming to a series so late is that I have a long way to go before I run out of episodes – currently at season 3! This book is the first one where the change between the two systems in the UK and US didn’t bother me quite so much – I put it down to the conditioning by The Good Wife!


  6. Great review, I will definitely add this book to my wish list. It sounds really good. Not particularly likable characters can be really interesting…


  7. Well, I’m delighted it got 5 stars and while the TBR is closed at the moment, fortunately the wishlist remains open… great review! Haha! I laughed at the not wanting to make friends with the characters comment – I’ll have you know I count Anne of Green Gables as one of my oldest and dearest friends… 😉


  8. Read The Ex this week and LOVED it! Totally agree with your review and how something was “off” with all of the characters and I definitely wouldn’t be friends with them in real life! Great review!


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