Monday, February 1, 2016

Review: The Ex

Summary: In this breakout standalone novel of suspense in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on a Train, a woman agrees to help an old boyfriend who has been framed for murder—but begins to suspect that she is the one being manipulated.

Twenty years ago she ruined his life. Now she has the chance to save it.

Widower Jack Harris has resisted the dating scene ever since the shooting of his wife Molly by a fifteen-year-old boy three years ago. An early morning run along the Hudson River changes that when he spots a woman in last night’s party dress, barefoot, enjoying a champagne picnic alone, reading his favorite novel. Everything about her reminds him of what he used to have with Molly. Eager to help Jack find love again, his best friend posts a message on a popular website after he mentions the encounter. Days later, that same beautiful stranger responds and invites Jack to meet her in person at the waterfront. That’s when Jack’s world falls apart.

Olivia Randall is one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancĂ©, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide—and that one of the victims was connected to his wife’s murder—there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is who would go to such great lengths to frame him—and why?

For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets, to absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him? -- Harper

I am a relatively new fan to Alafair Burke's novels. I've only read one of her books, well now two; and I really enjoyed both of them. Her stories are intriguing, as are the characters, and I have a pretty strong appreciation for her writing style. Her latest book, THE EX, is her eleventh novel; and based on how much I enjoyed it, I think I have about nine books that I need to add to my TBR list.

THE EX tells the story of Olivia Randall, a successful criminal defense lawyer, that is probably better skilled at being a tough lawyer than a relationship partner. When she is contacted by the teenage daughter of her ex fiance, Jack Harris, after he is arrested for a triple homicide, she feels obligated to come to his aid... especially after she destroyed him twenty years ago.

Jack Harris is out for his morning run when he spots a beautiful woman in a formal gown sitting under a tree, drinking champagne from the bottle and reading his favorite novel. After the loss of his wife to a shooter in Penn Station three years ago, Jack hasn't dated anyone; and he wonders if this woman, someone he can't get out of his mind, is what he needs to get back into the game. His best friend posts a message on a website asking this mysterious woman to step forward, and within days, she and Harris have set up a time to meet.

On the morning they agreed to meet, Jack takes his picnic basket and finds that the woman is no where to be found. Instead, he hears gunshots and leaves his basket behind. A few hours later, he learns that three people were killed -- one being the father of the boy responsible for killing Jack's beloved wife Molly. All of the evidence leads the police to Jack!

Olivia is certain that Jack could never murder anyone... no matter the circumstances; and she sets out to defend him even though, at every turn, she discovers more and more incriminating evidence. Does Olivia really know Jack twenty years after their breakup? Did she ever really know Jack? Is she so sure to believe him because of the guilt she still carries from their past?

I really enjoyed THE EX. In many ways, it was exactly what I needed these past few days. THE EX was a fast-paced mystery with lots of twists as well as some wonderfully complex characters. It definitely kept me guessing until the very end, although I do think many readers will be able to see where the story is going!

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the character of Olivia. The entire story was told in her voice, and I grew to love her even though she is a little rough around the edges. Olivia was an incredibly complex character, and I found some of her defense methods to be entertaining to say the least. At first, I wasn't too sure that I was going to like her; however, I quickly saw through her tough exterior and grew to really appreciate her style. I sure hope that Olivia makes an appearance or two in future novels.

As far as mysteries go, this was a doozy! Like Olivia, I was certain of Jack's innocence at the beginning of the novel. In fact, my heart went out to him because it was so difficult to accept that one person could go through so much. However, as the evidence kept coming in, and Jack looked more and more like he was good for the crime, I didn't know what to believe. I loved that I went back and forth and back again, never quite knowing what was truthful! The twists and turns throughout the novel were terrific, and the ending was satisfying in a strange way.

Of course, the main part of this novel was the mystery surrounding Jack's innocence or guilt; however, the story of Olivia and Jack's past was also a bit of a mystery. It was obvious that Olivia felt a tremendous amount of guilt (probably so much guilt that she was unable to have a normal relationship in her adult life) for what she did to Jack, and the author chose to reveal their story gradually. The actions from their past most certainly added complexity to their characters and actually brought the novel to the next level for me.

THE EX is another solid mystery from author Alistair Burke. I highly recommend it to fans of mysteries and legal thrillers.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


Kelly-Belly said...

This looks good. I remember reading The Girl on the Train review last year around this time and then going out and just buying it since there were so many holds at the library. I might have to pick this one up too. Thanks dear. :)

bermudaonion said...

I've heard great things about her books. I'm pretty sure I have several here that I need to get to. Thanks for the great review!

Beth F said...

I can't believe I haven't read this one yet. She really knows how to write a great mystery. Glad to see that she hasn't lost her touch.