Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: If You Were Here by Alafair Burke

Author: Alafair Burke
Publisher: Harper
Date of publication: June 2013

Magazine journalist McKenna Wright is chasing the latest urban folktale-the story of an unidentified woman who heroically pulled a teenaged boy from the subway tracks, seconds before an oncoming train. When McKenna locates a short video snippet that purportedly captures part of the incident, she thinks she has an edge on the competition scrambling to identify the mystery heroine.

She is shocked to discover that the woman in the video bears a strong resemblance to Susan Hauptmann, a close friend who disappeared without a trace a decade earlier.  What would have been a short-lived metro story sends McKenna on a dangerous search for the missing woman, a twisting journey through New York City that will force her to unearth long-buried truths much closer to home-to her own husband, who seems to know much more about Susan than McKenna could have ever imagined..

If You Were Here is the type of book that I would have loved to finish in one sitting.  If real life hadn't stubbornly intervened, I would have done just that.  That is how much this book sucked me in.  McKenna is finally on track with her life.  She has a job she loves and a happy comfortable marriage.  When she thinks she sees an old friend who vanished 10 years earlier on a video, her life takes a sudden path down a dark road.  As she starts to hunt for answers, strange things begin to happen.  The video disappears, she is accused of fraud in her most recent magazine article and subsequently fired.  The FBI is searching her work office and people start dying.   McKenna begins to suspect everyone, even her husband.

 I really liked the characters. McKenna was a strong female lead who fought back and tried to get to the bottom of everything, even when no one believed her.  I also liked Scanlin.  Even though he believed he was right about Susan, he was willing to go back and look at his original investigation to see if he had covered all of the bases.  The only part that I didn't like was the relationship between McKenna and Patrick.  I wasn't really sure through most of the book that either was very happy in their marriage, even thought I was told they were. 

I don't want to reveal too much about the plot because that would ruin the story.  There are a few twists that surprised me. The plot was very well planned out with the reveals just at the right time. The ending was great. I definitely recommend this latest stand alone novel by Ms. Burke.  It's an exciting, fast paced book that will leave you with your head spinning.

About the author:

Alafair Burke is the author of "two power house series" (Sun-Sentinel) that have earned her a reputation for creating strong, believable, and eminently likable female characters, such as NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher and Portland Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid. Alafair's novels grow out of her experience as a prosecutor in America's police precincts and criminal courtrooms, and have been featured by The Today Show, People Magazine, The New York Times, MSNBC, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Chicago Sun-Times. According to Entertainment Weekly, Alafair "is a terrific web spinner" who "knows when and how to drop clues to keep readers at her mercy."

A graduate of Stanford Law School and a former Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon, Alafair is now a Professor of Law at Hofstra Law School, where she teaches criminal law and procedure. Her books have been translated into 12 languages.

Learn more about Alafair at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I never have time to read a book in one sitting so I can totally sympathize! I'm glad you enjoyed this fast-paced thriller!

Thanks for being on the tour.