Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Review: Never Tell by Alafair Burke

Sixteen-year-old Julia Whitmire appeared to have everything: a famous father, a luxurious Manhattan townhouse, a coveted spot at the elite Casden prep school. When she is found dead in her bathtub, a handwritten suicide note left on her bed, her parents insists that their daughter would never take her own life.

But Julia's enviable world was more complicated than it seemed. The pressure to excel at Casden was enormous. Abuse of prescription anti-depressants and ADHD medication ran rampant among students; an unlabeled bottle of pills in Julia's purse suggests she had succumbed to the trend. And a search of Julia's computer reveals that in the days leading up to her death, she was engaged in a dangerous game of cyber-bullying against an unlikely victim.

NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher is convinced the case is a suicide, but she knows from personal experience that a loving family can be the last to accept the truth. When the Whitmire's use their power to force a criminal investigation, Ellie's resistance causes trouble for her both at work and in her personal life.

As she is pressured to pursue a case she doesn't believe in, she is pulled into Julia's inner circle-an eclectic mix of overly precocious teenagers from Manhattan's most privileged families as well as street kids she met in Greenwich Village. But when the target of Julia's harassment continues to receive death threats, Ellie is forced to acknowledge that Julia may have learned the hard way that some secrets should never be told.

Synopsis courtesy of

My Review

4 Stars

In Never Tell, the latest release from crime novelist Alafair Burke, NYPD detective Ellie Hatcher is called upon to investigate the possible suicide of a sixteen year-old girl.   Although there is no evidence of foul play, the girl's mother is adamant that her daughter would never take her own life.  While Ellie believes the case to be a simple one, she and her partner Rogan are compelled by the NYPD brass to investigate further.  As Ellie delves deeper into the privileged life of the victim and her circle of friends, she soon realizes that not everything about this case is as straightforward as it seems.   Is this case a suicide as initially thought, or is it something else?

While Never Tell is the fourth installment in Burke's Ellie Hatcher series, it is the first Burke novel I've had the pleasure of reading.  I was impressed not only by the strength of Burke's writing, but also with the development of the novel's characters and plot.   Never Tell is a smart thriller, one in which the investigation at the centre of the plot moves logically and plausibly.   Furthermore, the ultimate resolution to the investigation is not obvious, leaving the reader guessing until the final pages.  Although I don't generally read books in a series out of order, at no point in this novel did I feel my understanding of Ellie's back story to be hampered by the fact I haven't yet read the earlier Ellie Hatcher books.  As such, even though the novel is part of a series, it can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone.  

If you enjoy the mystery/crime genre and haven't yet given Alafair Burke's novels a try, I recommend you do so.  In fact, I enjoyed this novel so much that I've already bought the other three books in the series.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review for TLC book tours.  

Never Tell is currently on tour.  Click here to view the tour schedule. 

About Alafair Burke

Alafair Burke is the bestselling author of seven novels, including the stand-alone thriller, Long Gone, and the Ellie Hatcher series which includes 212, Angel’s Tip, and Dead Connection. A former prosecutor, she now teaches criminal law and lives in Manhattan.

Be sure to check out the results of the 2012 Duffer Awards, which are hosted by Alafair and can be found at the following link: