by Alafair Burke
Release Date: January 26th 2016
Softcover ARC Edition; 304 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from TLC Book Tours
3.5 / 5 Stars
Olivia Randall is one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancé, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide—and that one of the victims was connected to his wife’s murder three years earlier—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 absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. 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?
The Ex was a pretty decent legal thriller in terms of plot; the lawyer defends a man she was involved with twenty years ago after he was arrested for a triple homicide. While I don't have anything again legal thrillers, they're not usually a genre I tend to read extensively, although I do love the thriller / suspense genre itself. That being the case, I had prepared myself for some long courtroom drama scenes, but was surprised at how little of that there was in this one; some may argue that it was not a strength, but for me, I gave a little sigh of relief as I thought the legal stuff was quite interesting and just enough to make it informative without going over the top.
First of all, the legal information blended quite well into the story. I have found that sometimes, the courtroom dramas can consume a novel which I think is why I have stayed away from them or have been a bit skeptical over reading them lately. There was a lot of wrangling between Olivia, her office, and the DA's office over different rights and laws and who had the right to what information; I do find this kind of thing fascinating as there is so much misinformation out there that it is nice to learn a bit more. I also found little discussions about previous cases quite informative as well and enjoyed that aspect, almost enough to make me rethink the whole legal thriller genre (except for Anne Perry's William Monk series which I do read). Unfortunately for the author however, I did find the actual story to be quite predictable and mundane; it's a been there, seen that, read about it already kind of story so it was really easy to figure out the mystery, which did leave me feeling a bit unsatisfied.
I did really like Olivia Randall though; I though she was independent, strong, and powerful. The only thing that bothered me was her denial about Jack's possible guilt; a hot-shot defense lawyer like Olivia should be able to put away her feelings and look at all sides of an issue, and her constant defense of him for no other reason than she knew him twenty years ago drove me crazy. And it was repeated throughout the novel ad-nauseam. I also took a liking to Scott Temple and wished we could have learned more about him. I thought the dialogue between Olivia and Scott was quite witty and interesting so I looked forward to their scenes together. I do wish the other characters had had more depth to them though. Just when things were getting interesting, the author sort of sidled away from some interesting possibilities and settled on some more mundane ones and I was very disappointed. it definitely doesn't hurt to take a risk as I think Ms. Burke's readers have been waiting for those risks to appear in her novels.
I also really liked the author's take on social media and how the public is ruled by it. I thought she did quite a credible job at showing how people really rely on technology and not everyone over 40 is a technology idiot, capable of using computers quite well and using other advanced gadgets with ease. I also liked how she showed how easy it was to mess up too when you think you know it all about technology; someone is always faster and better than you.
The Ex is one of those novels that I liked because of the author's writing style and because she made her characters somewhat unlikable. I know this sounds odd, but I do like my characters to be somewhat flawed as they seem more realistic and empathetic, and many of these characters were vain and condescending. And while I enjoyed the author's writing style, I thought the actual murder was predictable and easy to figure out. That being said, I did enjoy Olivia's personal ruminations about her past and the impact it has had on her present life. If you are looking for a standard thriller, than this is for you; if you are looking for something darker and more twisted, something more complicated, then I would forego this one.
Alafair Burke is the New York Times bestselling author of ten previous novels, including the standalone thrillers Long Gone and If You Were Here, and the Ellie Hatcher series: All Day and a Night, Never Tell, 212, Angel’s Tip, and Dead Connection. She is also the coauthor of the Under Suspicion series with Mary Higgins Clark. A former prosecutor, she is now a professor of criminal law and lives in Manhattan.Find out more about Alafair at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.