25 April 2013

If You Were Here; Alafair Burke

If You Were HereIf You Were Here by Alafair Burke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is more a mystery/thriller than one or the other, and the twists did surprise me (although in retrospect one of them was a little telegraphed).

McKenna (yes, that's the first name!) is a former prosecutor, one brought down by apparently falsely accusing a police officer of using a drop piece to claim that his shooting was in self-defense. It turns out this was one of those odd consequences, she was wrong, she was vilified and lost her job. Ten years later she's married and has reinvented her life as a reporter. The new assignment? Talk to a high school baseball star, one who was saved from death on the subway tracks by a mysterious woman. McKenna suspects there's something more to this and - surprise - she's right. The "slip" onto the tracks came as the student was being chased by the woman he'd stolen an iPhone from, and his savior? The same woman. Who might, very possibly, be an old friend who disappeared years ago.

Suddenly McKenna's life is turned upside down. Another article she's working on is declared to be "worse than Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass", another disgrace and another job loss. The video of the subway saving disappears from all servers and the originating cell phone. Her husband has a mysterious conversation that implies he knows where Susan is and how to find her. Somehow this is tied in to environmental terrorism - maybe. The only person she can turn to is the detective who investigated Susan's disappearance.

The twists occasionally stretch credulity, but never so far that it breaks. McKenna's questions about her marriage to Patrick, her friendship with Susan and her ability to do her job don't feel planted but grow organically from her investigations. So why the four star? The explanation of what happened ten years ago (the accusation against the cop) was a little muddied. Some of the characters were a little unbelievable (Dana, the photographer, in particular). Plus, really, today you do not need to explain what RT means in a tweet. Assume the audience knows.

ARC provided by publisher.

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