Friday, June 22, 2012

Book Review: Never Tell by Alafair Burke

When Julia Whitmire is found dead in her bathroom from what seem to be self-inflicted wounds, NYPD detectives Ellie Hatcher and her partner Rogan are confused at their being summoned to the scene. Hesitation marks are present on the teen's wrists, as is a handwritten suicide note on her bedroom pillow. The case seems to be cut-and-dried.

However, the victim's parents, Bill and Katherine Whitmire, prove determined to force the investigators' hands. Calls are made to supervisors, a private detective is hired, and a tip line is set up, complete with a cash reward for information about their daughter's death. The family's wealth and influence spur the NYPD to continue with a case Hatcher is certain should have long been closed.

However, as secrets about Julia Whitmire's life emerge, both Rogan and Hatcher are forced to change their opinions. Whether or not Julia's death was murder or suicide, there is definitely a need for investigation. What follows is an exciting journey for the truth, one that takes the detectives from a homeless shelter for teens to an upscale Manhattan child psychiatrist's office, and from New York City's parks to a prep school for future CEOs and political leaders.

Never Tellthe fourth installment in Burke's Ellie Hatcher series, released this week. It is a novel that delves into several controversial current issues -- mental health diagnoses and prescription drug use in children and young adults, the treatment of and social stigma attached to homeless adolescents, and the rigorous expectations placed on Ivy League prep-school students. Burke also explores the ever-growing trend of anonymous blogging as therapy for past abuse.

Along with the twists and turns of the death investigation, Burke also continues to reveal the ins-and-outs of Ellie Hatcher's personal life. Never Tell is the first Hatcher series book I've read -- in fact, the first Burke novel I've ever read -- and I became invested in Hatcher's story nonetheless. While Burke is adding to a character she has already created, she does a fine job of introducing new readers to Hatcher, as well. Although my OCD tendencies would have preferred my reading the series in order, Never Tell works without my having done so. It is a strong novel centered around a strong female character who I will definitely be reading more about. 

Alafair Burke is no stranger to the world of mystery writing. Her father, James Lee Burke, has written more than two dozen novels, most of which feature Louisiana detective Dave Robicheaux. Quite separate from her father's success, Burke has carved a name for herself in the mystery genre, most recently with this series starring NYPD detective Ellie Hatcher.

Burke is the author of seven other books, including three in the Samantha Kincaid series, three in the Ellie Hatcher series, and one standalone novel. She is a former prosecutor and current criminal law professor, a career which enriches her writing. You might say books are in Burke's blood; in addition to her father being a writer, her mother was a school librarian who greatly encouraged her to read. You can find out more about Burke and her books on her website, on Facebook, on Twitter, or by reading her blog.

If you are a mystery reader, you must pop over to Burke's website to explore the 2012 Duffer Awards. The Duffers are zany awards for fictional characters. Last week Marcia Clark's Rachel Knight beat out Linda Fairstein's Alex Cooper as "Most Likely to Beat Judge Judy in a TV Ratings War." Each time you post a comment after you vote, you are entered to win weekly prizes, such as signed copies of Burke's books and $50 gift certificates from booksellers.

Additionally, as part of the promotion for Never Tell, you can purchase the e-book version of Burke's third Ellie Hatcher novel, 212, for only 99 cents! Click here for retailer options.

Never Tell is currently on tour via TLC Book Tours. To read the other reviews of Burke's latest novel, visit their Never Tell page with complete tour information and links.


  1. I'm glad you were able to enjoy this one even though you didn't start with book one ... I'm OCD with things like that as well, so I understand the challenge!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  2. I have this one to read as well. Glad u enjoyed it.



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