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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 September 2013
Journalist McKenna Jordan is investigating the recent rescue of a teenage boy on the New York subway. When he fell onto the tracks, a woman jumped down and pulled him to safety in the nick of time. She then turned and disappeared. McKenna obtains some shaky cellphone footage from a witness, but is stunned when she thinks she recognises the woman as her friend Susan Hauptmann, who disappeared without trace 10 years previously. Her husband Patrick, who also knew Susan, is not convinced, but McKenna starts to investigate. However almost immediately it becomes evident that someone wants to stop her from finding out what's going on. First the cellphone footage mysteriously disappears from her computer, then she is fired as the victim of a set up at work. Her husband also starts behaving oddly and suddenly McKenna is not sure who she can trust.

I really liked the first half of this book. It grabs your attention early and the mystery is genuinely intriguing. The writing is similar in style to Linwood Barclay and Harlan Coben. However somewhere along the way, it starts to lose momentum. The author throws in too many improbable twists and unlikely coincidences. Characters behave in ways that service the plot rather than making any sense in their own right. Too many plot elements need to be lengthily explained. And the ending drags on for too long.

I'd rate the first half of this book four stars, but the second half two stars, so I've averaged out at three. It's an okay thriller but it's a shame that it doesn't deliver on its early promise.

I received a digital copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
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on 21 June 2013
Alafair Burke is the author of two wonderful series featuring recurring characters Samantha Kincaid, a lawyer and Detective Ellie Hatcher. In her latest book If You Were Here (a stand alone) she brings us another great protagonist - and another fantastic book for some hot summer reading.

McKenna Jordan is a journalist for a NYC magazine. This is a second career for McKenna. She was an Assistant District Attorney for the city, but she resigned in disgrace after badly fumbling her first big case.

Looking for her next story for the magazine, McKenna decides to follow up on a report of a woman rescuing a young man from certain death on the subway tracks; then disappearing. Bystander cell phone footage is blurry, but McKenna is sure the woman is her old friend Susan - who disappeared ten years ago. Her husband Patrick went to school with Susan and he's equally sure it can't be her.

"She watched the video one more time. There was no way to be certain, but somehow the woman in the video looked more like Susan with every viewing. If Susan was still alive, where had she been all this time? Why did she leave? Why didn't she tell anyone? And why was she back now?

Hooked! Oh yes, I do love this kind of book. And Burke takes it to a new level with If You Were Here. I loved the slow peeling back of layers as McKenna revisits the disappearance of Susan, the case that cost her her ADA career - and her relationship with her husband. We're along for the ride with McKenna chasing leads and wondering who is telling the truth. I really enjoyed McKenna as a character - she's dogged and determined, but not perfect.

Burke's plotting was complex and intricately carved from seemingly disparate puzzle pieces just waiting to be clicked into place. Read carefully - ostensibly innocuous comments end up being subtly inserted clues to the final answer. And that final answer was nowhere near where I thought the book would go. Burke kept me guessing and kept me engaged from first page to last. This one's on my hot summer reads list. If you haven't read Alafair Burke yet - what are you waiting for?!
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Following on the heels of her impressive suspense tale, Long Gone, imaginative novelist Burke brings us yet another artfully plotted, unputdownable story, If You Were Here. So aptly titled because intrepid, impulsive New York City journalist McKenna Jordan believes she has sighted a friend who disappeared a decade ago, Susan Hauptmann.

The sighting took place on an indistinct video showing NYC's latest heroine - a woman who pulled a teenage boy from subway tracks just as a train was shooting toward him. McKenna only had a fast glimpse of her face but believes it is Susan. After all, Susan had been a close friend of hers, and a friend of Patrick's, McKenna's husband. Susan was a West Pointer as was Patrick. Even ten years ago Susan had been a bit of an enigma - she was forced into military life by her father, a general. On campus she was without fault. Yet after hours she could easily turn into a flirtatious gal eager to hook up with fellows she met in bars.

McKenna becomes determined to prove that the woman who saved the young man and Susan are one and the same. But when she shows the image to Patrick he discourages her, saying it couldn't be Susan and suggests McKenna is imagining things, trying too hard just as she did several years ago which caused her not only embarrassment but the loss of her job.

Ignoring Patrick McKenna begins to search on her own which later reveals manufactured emails, the reopening of a decade old Manhattan police shooting, and ultimate danger for Patrick and herself.

Burke has crafted an innovative plot that keeps readers guessing until the end.

- Gail Cooke
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on 15 August 2013
When disgraced lawyer turned journalist McKenna Jordan thinks she sees a friend who disappeared 10 years ago she sets off on a hunt to find the truth. It's all linked to her partner and her past, but despite knowing it can ny cause disruption and strife she is determined to find her lost friend.
She may not be the most loveable character but you have to admire her dedication and determination, even if it is going to ruin her reputation and career for a second time.
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on 5 August 2013
The plot was sketchy, especially as too many unlikely, unsubstantiated conclusions were drawn for the sake of the author's convenience and to move the very weak storyline one. I like some light novels after a long day at work but this was just rubbish, irritatingly so.
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on 26 January 2013
I like a book that you don't have to put down this was a great read exellent story just kept reading never put it down
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"If You Were Here," is a freestanding crime novel by young American author Alafair Burke The writer, the daughter of beloved American crime novelist James Lee Burke, has been called "one of the finest young crime writers working today," by prominent American crime author Dennis Lehane. She has published eight previous novels, and has two mystery series: one centered on Portland (Oregon) Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid; one, on New York City Police Department Detective Ellie Hatcher. The Sun-Sentinel has described Burke's output as "two powerhouse series."

IF YOU WERE HERE, like its author, is largely set in New York City and environs. Manhattan magazine journalist McKenna Jordan is an attorney; she was a New York City Assistant District Attorney until a case involving possible police corruption went south on her. She is now mulling producing a book on the case that ended her legal career and, more immediately, chasing the hot story of an unidentified woman who was able to pull an apparently doomed teenage boy from subway tracks. She finds a witness video that captures part of the incident, and rejoices that she has scooped the competition in the struggle to identify the mystery heroine. But almost as soon as she locates the video, she realizes that the woman in it strongly resembles Susan Hauptmann, a close friend and classmate of her husband's at West Point, the United States Military Academy, who disappeared without trace a decade earlier. Up to then, this would have been just a passing metro story, a few column inches at most, but McKenna can't let the newly revealed mystery rest. It sends her on a search for the missing woman that becomes risky as McKenna realizes there are mysterious parties that don't want the woman found. And as McKenna searches for her missing friend, she realizes that the story of Hauptmann's disappearance is somehow linked to the story of the end of her own legal career.

Burke is a graduate of Stanford Law School and a former Portland Deputy District Attorney. She is now a professor at Hofstra Law School, where she teaches criminal law and procedure, and lives in Manhattan. I've read and reviewed in these pages the author's Long Gone,Never Tell, and Close Case. I think this novel shows considerable growth from her earlier works. If nothing else, the author has gotten much stronger in her descriptions of New York City, its boroughs, such as Manhattan, and its landmarks, such as Greenwich Village. She does well on the City's flora and fauna, its highways, byways, Long Island Rail Road, and its social ways. The current suspenser is also quite well-written, with sharp narrative, descriptive writing, and dialog. The plot ticks along in a satisfactory way. The author uses some pretty stale plot devices, and the novel is a slo-go for a while; still, she gives us lots of red herrings and succeeds in creating a complex, multi-leveled thriller that was able to keep me surprised. Furthermore, I believe the writer achieved more power in this book than in the previous works of hers that I have read.

No question about it, Alafair Burke, as the daughter of James Lee Burke, faces high expectations. Though, luckily for her, she is a story teller who evidently knows a lot about the assistant district attorney trade. She appears to be trying to create strong, believable female characters, and, as her work is based upon her solid background in law enforcement, it has a realistic feel. Burke has been featured by The Today Show, People Magazine, The New York Times, MSNBC, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Chicago Sun-Times. This young woman is building herself an admirable career; you might want to start getting acquainted with her work now.
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on 27 May 2013
I only 'discovered' Alafair Burke a couple of years ago when I picked up 212 - the third in a series featuring NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher. I remember thinking at that time 'why is this author not already on my 'must read' list'? (She was promptly added!)

Never Tell is the fourth book in the Hatcher series. Burke piques our interest with the opening prologue - an entry from a blog - "Second Acts: Confessions of a Former Victim and Current Survivor."

Cut to Ellie and her partner Rogan - they've been called out to what appears to be a clear cut suicide. But the dead girl is young - and her parents are rich and influential. Her mother insists her daughter would never kill herself. Ellie thinks the call is a waste of her time and believes the death is exactly what it appears to be. Rogan - he's got his doubts. And it turns out he's right. A chastened Hatcher approaches the case with a new attitude. And what she finds........

Ellie is a great protagonist. She's real and fallible, but at the same time tough, dogged and determined. I enjoyed the secondary story line of Ellie's love life - her relationship with Max, an NYC Assistant District Attorney. I always like to get to 'know' a character's life and follow the changes throughout a series. Rogan works as a good foil to Ellie's personality. They are complete opposites, but work well together. Their dialogue is easy and entertaining.

Burke has again come up with a plot populated with enough false leads and twists to keep me wondering 'whodunit' until the last few chapters. Never Tell kept me interested from first to last page. Burke has worked as a criminal prosecutor and currently teaches criminal law. That insider knowledge gives her writing an added punch and a dose of reality. A recommended series.

Fans of Lisa Gardner and Linda Fairstein would enjoy Alafair Burke's books. I'm looking forward to her next book - a stand alone called If You Were Here, releasing in June 2013.
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on 3 October 2012
The plot is simple enough. A suicide looks solid enough. A body and a note but the mother will not accept that her daughter killed herself and so begins the plot-line. I've never read any of her stuff before but I tried this one and found it to be a great thriller which keeps you turning the pages. I will read more from this author.
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on 23 December 2012
I really liked this book. I can see why it is always in the Kindle charts from Amazon !! A great story with lots of twists and turns. I thought I'd guessed who was the baddie but no, I got it wrong !!
I liked the author's dedication to her mother-in-law at the beginning and all the readers she named at the end left me breathless !!!
There were a few tiny mistakes but ones I overlooked since it was a tale so well told that kept me interested enough to not mind.
I was a little disappointed by Ellie, the police detective at the end with a decision she took. I didn't agree with her but I won't say anymore than that.
It turns out that this was the 3rd book in a series featuring Ellie but that didn't matter as this easily stood alone and only a couple of passing references were made of prior cases which maybe feature in the other 2 preceding books.
This begins with a schoolgirl found dead in a bath who had possibly killed herself but perhaps she didn't. Ellie is sure she has and isn't particularly interested in taking the investigation any further but her partner insists and soon they're caught up in allsorts of intrigue regarding the kids at the private school they attended along with appearances by some kids that live rough.
I'll be getting the other books in the series for sure. Loved the cover of this book too. It reminds me of one by Sophie Hannah I like.
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