A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, July 24, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- The EX by Alafair Burke: Feature and Review


Twenty years ago she ruined his life.

Now she has the chance to save it.

Olivia Randall is one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancĂ©, 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 ExThe Ex by Alafair Burke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The EX by Alafair Burke is a 2016 Harper publication.

The legal thriller has gone through many adjustments, especially over the last five or six years. Courtroom dramas appear to be dead in the water as fewer attorneys actually step foot into a courtroom anymore.

Now, so called legal thrillers have lawyers doing all the crime solving, making them more like amateur sleuths than attorneys. No one ever sits on the stand, there are no judges or juries and the nuances of criminal court trials have disappeared entirely.

But, that is not the case with this book and for that reason alone, I intended to give the book a solid rating, but as it turns out this was a very compelling read that went beyond the legal wrangling.

Olivia had a five- year relationship with Jack, but the two were incompatible and she wound up hurting Jack very badly by making some very bad decisions. She hasn’t seen Jack in many years, but she knows he eventually married and has a daughter. However, his happiness was short lived due to the tragic shooting death of his wife.

Now the man Jack holds responsible for the shooting has been shot and killed and of course Jack is suspect number one. Olivia agrees to take his case, despite the obvious conflict of interest, mainly due to her feelings of guilt about how things ended between her and Jack.
Olivia is positive Jack could never do what he is accused of, but the more evidence that pours in, the more people who come forward with tales of Jack’s dark side, the more Olivia begins to suspect her client is guilty.

I was riveted to this story from the get go. The plotting and planning is very rich in details, with several breathtaking twists and turns along the way. I have read many legal thrillers in my day, and I have to admit I had suspected what the outcome would be, but I was never over confident about that, always having a reasonable doubt about what really happened.

Olivia is a character I couldn’t help but like, despite some things she did in her past that were really terrible. She still has some morally questionable traits when it comes to relationship choices and she drinks a lot, beats herself up over how she treated Jack, something I suspect has left her unsettled for many years, but she does her job exceptionally well. She grows as a person throughout this case, and I think maybe she was able to put some lingering demons to rest at last.

This case is perhaps a little bit of a cautionary tale, proving cause and effect. One person’s actions can cause a chain reaction that not only affects their lives but many others. Despite what one might think, at the end of the day, the outcome really gave me something to think about. Of course, I can’t expound on that here without giving anything away, but I think this story has some deeper messages beyond what appears on the surface.

The atmosphere was heavy and tense from the beginning and the conclusion is creepy, and left me feeling as though Olivia will have to deal with the fallout of this case for a long time to come and that someday another shoe will drop and when it does, it won’t be pretty. But, until then, I think Olivia came out of the situation a much more balanced person with a more settled life and at long last has put the past in its proper perspective and place.

I wouldn’t mind seeing her in action again someday.

Overall this one gets 4.5 stars.





Alafair Burke is the New York Times bestselling author of "two powerhouse series" (Sun-Sentinel) that have earned her a reputation for creating strong, believable, and eminently likable female characters, such as NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher and Portland Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid. Alafair's novels grow out of her experience as a prosecutor in America's police precincts and criminal courtrooms, and have been featured by The Today Show, People Magazine, The New York Times, MSNBC, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Chicago Sun-Times. According to Entertainment Weekly, Alafair "is a terrific web spinner" who "knows when and how to drop clues to keep readers at her mercy."

A graduate of Stanford Law School and a former Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon, Alafair is now a Professor of Law at Hofstra Law School, where she teaches criminal law and procedure. Her books have been translated into 12 languages.

Alafair's work has been praised by some of the world's most respected crime writers, including Gillian Flynn, Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Karin Slaughter, Harlan Coben, Lisa Scottoline, Lisa Unger, and Nelson DeMille.

Learn more about Alafair at www.alafairburke.com

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