Review of “The Wife” by Alafair Burke

This crime novel is full of twists and turns, with hardly a reliable narrator in the whole bunch of characters. The topic couldn’t be more timely. Jason Powell is a well-known economics prof at NYU and author of a best-selling book on “how to maximize profits by following guiding principles of morality and equality.” He has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior by one of his interns, much to the surprise and disbelief of his wife Angela. Angela hates publicity in any case; she wants nothing more than to have a quiet life with her secret, traumatic past well hidden. But now that is all about to change.

When another woman comes forward more formally to charge Jason, the case is investigated by Detective Corrine Duncan, a very competent woman who trades findings and insights with the prosecutor.

As with any “he said, she said” case, it is difficult to tell who is telling the whole truth, but each and every character has a reason to lie, and when a dead body suddenly turns up, everything about it takes on a new, sinister turn.

Discussion: I have not previously read books by this author, but I certainly intend to remedy that lapse. The author is a graduate of Stanford Law School and now teaches criminal law and procedure at Hofstra Law School. She worked as a judicial clerk, a trial lawyer, and as liaison to the police department, and clearly knows what she’s talking about. She presents the legal aspects of the book in a clear way without making those portions sound like an infodump. I also liked her portrayal of the female detective, who is well-rounded, strong, and intelligent. And of course I’m a sucker for a book with twists you don’t see coming.

Evaluation: This entertaining crime novel will keep you turning the pages, and will delight you with all the plot complications you didn’t see coming.

Rating: 4/5

Published by Harper an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2018


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5 Responses to Review of “The Wife” by Alafair Burke

  1. Beth F says:

    I haven’t read this one yet but, yes, you must read more of Burke’s books.

  2. Kay says:

    I’ve only read one or two of her books previously. Looking forward to this one. She comes from a writer family – James Lee Burke is her father and his mystery series have gone on for many years. Glad to know this one is good.

  3. BermudaOnion says:

    I haven’t read her books either but I know so many people who love her work. This sounds like a winner.

  4. I read one which was okay. But I didn’t need to read any more.

  5. This book sounds like something I’d like to read, but may start with one of her earlier ones?

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