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Book Review: ‘If You Were Here’ by Alafair Burke

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If You Were Here is a fictional mystery set in New York City.  Ms. Burke is a best-selling author, former prosecutor and a teacher of criminal law.

Journalist McKenna Wright is writing a fluff piece when she thinks she sees an old friend who disappeared 10 years ago without a trace. Using her connections as a former prosecutor and her investigator’s instincts, McKenna pursues the matter in a search across New York City and finds long-buried, dark secrets of those she loves the most.

I didn’t know what to think about If You Were Here by Alafair Burke. On one hand this was a well-written, fast-paced novel, on the other the plot was frustratingly convoluted. While I appreciate intricate storylines, this one just seemed to be made out of separate puzzles that are somewhat forced together.

At first I thought this would be a quick read, but I soon discovered that to keep track of the storyline I had to read carefully because an off-the-wall comment could be the next be clue (as is sometimes in real life). The narrative had me guessing until the end, which was surprising but somehow anti-climatic.

To me the story seemed farfetched beyond comfort. While I liked the fact that Ms. Burke drew on life-like events, the whole plot was over the top and the characters lacked depth to make it more believable. The protagonist, McKenna, is a smart, strong woman but the author keeps bringing up her past career as a lawyer every few pages as if to remind the reader that McKenna is a … smart, strong woman.

Overall the novel was not a bad summer read, I’d certainly recommend it if you like mysteries and are going on a vacation soon. I did like the way the book is written and will certainly pick up a different book by the author if I get a chance.

Buy this book in paper or elec­tronic (Kindle) format.

 

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