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Dead Connection is Alafair Burke‘s first standalone novel following her successful Samantha Kincaid series. It’s published by Henry Holt in the US and Orion in the UK. And it’s a rather topical novel using online dating and identity theft within its plot (only yesterday there was another article in the UK press about the risks of online social networking).
So what’s the plot for this work of crime fiction?
In a nutshell: Two women have been murdered in New York and both had been on dates through a dating site immediately before, with their murderer deliberately leaving clues to connect the deaths. Flann McIlroy – a bit of a maverick cop when it comes to courting publicity – has Detective Ellie Hatcher transferred to the case as he wants to use her to smoke out the murderer. The investigation becomes personal for Ellie in more ways than one, as her past catches up with her and the murderer exploits it…
Ellie’s personal life is a troubled one where she, her mother and her brother are still trying to get over the death of her father. He lost his life when trying to catch a serial killer. Where Ellie became a cop like her father, her brother pursues his dream of success in the word of music, moving from job to job in the meantime, occasionally seeking succour from the more reliable Ellie.
Ellie and Flann are strong engaging characters and they have an interesting relationship where it takes time to build trust. The plot is tight and the narrative moves at quite a pace. Prepare yourself for a shocker before the end; this novel will grip you emotionally too.
Wonderfully topical, this novel both entertains and educates. It’s a great piece of crime fiction from Alafair Burke. I question the "standalone" though. Surely a character such as Ellie has a bright future and readers would want to have more? I hope so.
Update: Alafair Burke tells me that she’s working on another Ellie Hatcher novel. Good news all round.