| The ex, a novel by Alafair
Burke is a legal thriller. This murder mystery delves into what
would happen if circumstances bring together an estranged couple
where one becomes dependent upon the other. Burke, a former
prosecutor, details well the legal and trial background within
the complexity of relationships.
The plot has one of New York City's best criminal defense
lawyers, Olivia Randall, representing her ex- fiancé,
Jack Harris. He has been arrested for a triple homicide that
includes a victim connected to his wife's murder three years
earlier. Burke takes the reader on a journey with Randall
as she goes from vehemently believing his innocence to questioning
if he is indeed guilty. Part of the reason she agrees to represent
Jack is to absolve herself of the guilt, feeling somewhat
responsible for his state of mind. Her past regrets are based
on the way she chose to end the relationship twenty years
ago when she broke his heart in an unimaginable way.
Burke commented, “People who were in your past life,
did you ever wonder about them? How did someone in Olivia’s
former life turn out? She was never able to close the book
with Jack. Then he suddenly appears in her life in a very
shocking way. She remembers the relationship in a certain
way, making herself to be the bad person. Feeling guilty about
the way she ended it her memories are that she was bad and
he was good. But as the book progresses you see not everything
is black and white.”
These characters are flawed and each has a dark side. Jack
is seen as one of those people who act like a puppy dog in
a relationship, always willing to acquiesce. In some ways
he was very suffocating. Starting out as friends the relationship
evolved because Jack was so dependent on Olivia.
The book also explores “Catfishing,” where Internet
predators scam their way into romantic relationships with
unsuspecting victims that seek love online. By creating fake
profiles on social networking sites, these predators trick
people into thinking that they are someone else entirely.
Anyone who has ever heard of the Brad Paisley song “Online”
will understand that the fabricated life stories and photographs
allow people to be “so much cooler online,” creating
an unrealistic world that they wish were their own. Readers
may remember how this happened to Notre Dame football star
Burke noted, “The Room” is based on the “gothamist”
website that is New York centrist. I also explore “Catfishing”
where someone pretends to be a certain person. My friend is
single and does online dating. Someone sent him a message
and asked him if he was the person she was conversing with
online, because she wanted to meet him in person. She thinks
it was my friend because she Googled the image sent to her.
Some guy had basically used my friend’s picture to give
himself a different identity. The prosecutor in me was worried
about the anonymity of the Internet. I told my friend to be
very careful, trust but verify times ten.”
With the backdrop of a murder case that can be considered
a mass killing the ex explores the guilt and betrayal
of people in relationships, past and present. Beyond that
readers will also be exposed to the criminal justice system.
These are reasons enough to enjoy this legal mystery.