The Ex – Alafair Burke


Published by Faber and Faber on 4 February 2016

In this breakout standalone thriller in the tradition of Gillian Flynn, William Landay and Paula Hawkins, a lawyer agrees to help an old boyfriend who has been accused of murder-but begins to suspect that she is the one being manipulated.

Widower Jack Harris has resisted the dating scene since the shooting of his wife by a fifteen-year-old boy three years ago. An early morning run along the Hudson River changes that when he spots a woman who eerily but thrillingly echoes his past. Eager to help Jack find love again, his best friend posts a “Missed Moment” item online and days later, a woman responds…

Olivia Randall is one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers. When she gets the phone call informing her that her former fiancée, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is who would go to such great lengths to frame him – and why?

For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets, and the hurt she caused him, but as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him?

My thoughts

The Ex is an engaging mystery wrapped up in a legal drama. It is a standalone novel by Alafair Burke. At its centre is the relationship between Olivia and Jack, who were once a couple. Olivia’s guilt about the way she ended their relationship ensures she takes on Jack’s case.

Olivia is a defense lawyer and is contacted by Jack’s daughter, Buckley. Jack has been arrested for multiple murder and it looks like the police have a pretty solid case. Jack is a writer and widower. He is accused of shooting three people in a New York park. His alibi seems to be a woman, who he spotted when out jogging and was drawn to. Is Jack capable of murder? And will Olivia be able to get to the truth?

The novel draws you into the mystery of Jack and whether he cold-bloodedly shot the three victims. With a small cast of well defined characters, the beauty of this read is watching it all play out. With courtroom scenes and the hard work of Olivia, it seems like an impossible task getting to the truth. If Jack is innocent, who would frame him? If he is guilty as the prosecution believes, why did he do it?

This is a strong, fast paced drama, which had me totally baffled. I alternated constantly between believing in Jack’s guilt to wondering if he was actually innocent. I thought the ending was just perfect, the way everything tied together beautifully. If you are a fan of exciting legal thrillers, do not miss out on The Ex.


My thanks to Faber and Faber for my review copy.


About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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6 Responses to The Ex – Alafair Burke

  1. Claire says:

    Brilliant! I have a ‘snuggling up to read something brilliant and not talk to any actual humans’ weekend planned and this sounds like just the ticket – thanks!

  2. tripfiction says:

    It’s an interestingly constructed novel, with some beautiful tableaux – the woman in the park in her finery, early one morning drinking champagne…. I was glad to have familiarity of due legal process, to fully understand what was going on here, via TV programmes like The Good Wife

  3. So good to hear you enjoyed this one too! I don’t often read legal thrillers but this one had me totally engaged and mystified

  4. Kay says:

    I’m going to read this one too. Alafair Burke is an author that I’ve been meaning to read for years. This is a good place to start.

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