Most readers of popular fiction know the works of James Lee Burke and his characters, New Iberia, La., detective Dave Robicheaux and former Texas Ranger Billy Bob Holland. Not nearly as many have the same familiarity with the work of his daughter, Alafair Burke, a Hofstra University law professor and former deputy district attorney in Portland, Ore.
Alafair Burke has written eight books in two series of crime novels — one featuring New York City detective Ellie Hatcher, the other with Portland prosecutor Samantha Kincaid.
Her newest book, “Never Tell” (HarperCollins, $24.99), the fourth in the Hatcher series, begins with a call from a distraught mother who insists her daughter's apparent suicide is murder. “Never Tell” careens through the world of New York City's homeless young adults through exclusive private schools and luxurious townhouses and the Hamptons, all in pursuit of a killer Hatcher believes does not exist.
Burke grew up in Wichita, Kan., where her father taught English, during the 1970s, the period of the hunt for the BTK (“Bind, Torture, Kill”) serial killer. Alafair and her father, who at the time had not started writing crime fiction, had a hobby of discussing the crimes and offering their theories to each other on how the case would unfold. That history is reflected in her Hatcher character, who grew up in Wichita with a father who was a policeman, dedicated to catching a serial killer.
Alafair Burke's writing, while not the honed expansive imagery of her father, grabs the reader, tantalizing to try to follow the evidence. This is probably her best novel to date.
— A. Reader