18 May 2015
Alafair Burke:All Day and a Night
Alafair Burke has written another first class police crime thriller in the Ellie Hatcher series which shows that she is at the top of her class for this genre. This time she has created a first rate psychological thriller about serial killings and the possible conviction of an innocent man.
In prison parlance "All Day" relates to a life term and "All Day and a Night" is a life sentence without parole. Anthony Amaro was given the latter sentence eighteen years ago for a single murder and barely avoided death row as he was suspected of killing a further five women. An anonymous letter is sent to the DA's office claiming that Amaro is innocent because a killer with the same signature (which was never made public) is still at large. Psychologist Helen Brunswick was shot and killed recently and her death had the serial killer's signature - her limbs were broken after death.
Ellie Hatcher and her police partner, JJ Rogan, are asked by Max Donovan, a Deputy Attorney General, to take a fresh look at the cases. Max has selected them as the best detectives available to track down this cold case - what makes this different and possibly difficult is that Max is Ellie's live-in boyfriend. The case is made even more difficult when a grandstanding defense attorney, Linda Moreland, applies for Amaro's release on the basis of the new evidence. It is made even more unusual because Linda has just hired Carrie Blank, an up-and-coming lawyer, who is the step-sister of the woman for whose murder Amaro was convicted.
Alafair Burke then takes us on a complex ride around the cold-case murders, the case for Amaro's release, and the new murder. They are led back to Carrie's old hometown, the local police force and especially a gung-ho but very successful police sergeant (now retired) who extracted Amaro's confession. This is sharp and gripping stuff as Burke weaves the plot around and about, creates new leads (and some diversions) and uncovers old ones against a background of lies, deceit and danger and violence that stalks the major players.
This is a great police thriller that delivers the goods skillfully without going outside the bounds of believability that is the signature of so many top authors of the genre these days. While it could help to have read some of the previous four books in the series it can easily be read standalone as the back-story of Ellie's personal history and life is really only peripheral to your enjoyment of the book.
I strongly recommend this book as one of the best of the current genre of US police thrillers written by an author at the top of her form. Highly recommended.