If You Were Here by Alafair Burke

If You Were Here by Alafair BurkeOnce you start asking questions, it can be impossible to stop, even when you know you should.

McKenna Jordan’s life is finally settling back down after a promising career as an Assistant District Attorney was spectacularly derailed by scandal. Having left the D.A.’s office under a black cloud, Jordan reinvented herself as a journalist and, ironically, is now enjoying the biggest success of her life as a result of a feature she wrote about the very case that got her run out of the legal profession.

Needing to capitalize on that success, Jordan begins looking into the case of a mysterious woman who rescued a teen from certain death when he fell onto the tracks in the path of an approaching subway train. Jordan discovers more than she bargained for, however, when she finally gets her hands on a video of the events shot by a fellow commuter…she thinks she recognizes the woman.

More startling than that, it’s someone she, and everyone else, had long since presumed dead after the woman mysteriously disappeared ten years ago. A classmate of Jordan’s husband, Patrick, while they were at West Point, Susan Hauptmann was one of the most gifted–both athletically and intellectually–people Jordan had ever known. Now, convinced that Hauptmann’s reappearance signals the tip of an iceberg awaiting discovery, Jordan begins a search that will lead her places she could never possibly have imagined, and into unimaginable danger.

Probably best known for her Ellie Hatcher series, If You Were Here, the latest offering from bestselling author Alafair Burke, is a pulse-pounding standalone suspense-thriller that showcases the best of what Burke brings to the table as an author. The pace, which steps on the gas right out the gate and never lets up, is nevertheless perfectly balanced by a seamless and steady injection of character detail and development. These aren’t mindless puppets running from pillar to post merely to advance plot points, but characters you actually care about.

Similarly, Burke’s penchant for having her characters operate in a now that is recognizable really shines through. From the descriptions of New York City, to subtly by expertly worked-in digs at age and fashion, to Jordan’s clever use of Twitter to help her investigation, Burke paints a picture of a life and environment that readers not only recognize, but easily identify with.

None of which would matter without a cracking plot, which Burke supplies in abundance. Again, Burke’s skill as a storyteller is prominently on display as she sure-handedly pieces together a wonderfully complex puzzle, one which just when you think has come to the end, takes a sharp turn and plunges a little deeper into the mysterious disappearance–and reappearance–of Susan Hauptmann. Indeed, be sure you’re buckled up and keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times, because Burke’s If You Were Here is one hell of a ride!

If You Were Here is available from Harper (ISBN: 978-0062208354).

Alafair Burke is the bestselling author of nine novels, including the thrillers Long Gone and If You Were Here, and the Ellie Hatcher series: 212, Angel’s Tip, and Dead Connection. A former prosecutor, she now teaches criminal law and lives in Manhattan. To learn more about Alafair’s work, visit her website or connect with her on Facebook.

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