Saturday, 7 January 2017

The EX - Alafair Burke

A legal thriller that thrills!

Reading John Grisham's books as a teenager was how I was introduced to the genre. Time to Kill, Pelican Brief and my favourite the Client were books I went back to, numerous times as a teenage reader. But then there came a point when I outgrew them all. Even the later ones Scott Turrow or Steven Martini failed to hold any interest.

Burke's book was a surprise find. I just read the title and the tagline and this was enough to tickle my curiosity. A contemporary voice and a new style, this story kept me hooked till the end.

The Gist:

Olivia is a successful lawyer although not so successful in her life. She has made some mistakes and she prefers not to look back. There is a blast from the past when one day she gets a call saying her ex has been arrested for three counts of murder. Olivia agrees to take up the case because she believes in Jack's innocence. She is convinced someone is trying to frame him and Olivia is keen to know why.
But then as she delves deeper into it, she is forced to admit conflicting thoughts regarding her client's innocence.

What works:
  • Perhaps I am comparing it to legal thrillers of the past, but I found this one modern in terms of language. A good thing.
  • It is an intriguing plot but often such plots end with a whimper. The first chapter is a killer and so bizzare that it seems Jack is digging a deep hole. You feel sorry for the guy and really want Olivia to help him out.
  • The narrative flows well and the voice is strong. The way the story weaves through the legal system, it is clear Burke despite being an insider, has done her research well. She meanders through the nitty gritties of the legal jargon very well.
  • The characters. Jackson Harris the soft, celebrated novelist as the victim and Olivia as the hardnosed lawyer are very well etched indeed. Even the peripheral characters of Melissa and Charlotte have a role to play and together the characters make it a formidable plot.
What doesn't:
  • The twist was a bit predictable. However, the way she led to it was compelling in the sense, I had to keep reading to make sure it turned out the way I had thought it would.
A great read, a talented writer. I am on a lookout for her books. Recommended. 

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