The Ex // by Alafair Burke


//published 2016//

I added this book to my TBR earlier this year thanks to a review by Carol over on Reading, Writing, & Riesling.  Thanks!!!

The premise of this story is that our narrator, Olivia, is a defense attorney in New York City.  When Jack Harris is arrested for murder, Olivia feels obligated to defend him – she and Jack were engaged twenty years earlier.  All we know at the beginning is that Olivia feels quite guilty about the way the relationship ended, and that, in some ways, defending Jack is a way to balance her personal scales.

I wasn’t sure that I was in the mood for a procedural crime book, but I was totally hooked by the first chapter, the transcript of the NYPD’s initial interview with Jack.  It was a fabulous way to immediately bring the reader up to speed on the actual crime and Jack’s crazy story for how he ended up at the scene of the murder.  While I didn’t find Olivia completely likable, she was a good narrator, and the story is paced excellently.

The constant waffling of did-he-or-didn’t-he is done really well.  I honestly had no idea whether or not Jack was the criminal.  Besides the details of the backstory between Olivia and Jack, we know basically everything that Olivia does, and I really enjoyed pondering each new testimony or piece of evidence that Olivia unearthed, trying to fit the pieces together.

It’s definitely more of a procedural than a thriller – there was never a moment that I really feared for anyone’s safety or anything like that.  It was the actual wanting to know that kept me turning the pages at a very high rate!

I really thought pretty much all the way through that this would be a solid 4-star read for me, but I felt like the ending was rushed and not as satisfying as I wanted it to be.  While the conclusion mostly made sense, I felt like it was a tad convoluted and wasn’t sure that I was 100% on board with the motivations behind the murderer’s actions.

Still, this is an easy 3.5 read, and one that has definitely inspired me to check out more of Burke’s works.  (Apparently she’s a super famous author and has written a couple of series of books??  I’m always late to the party, I guess!)