Skip to main content

The Ex


The Ex

Olivia Randall is a single, successful 40-something Manhattan defense attorney who specializes in bailing celebrities out of trouble who have run afoul of the law. Her dreams of attaining a clerkship with the Supreme Court were dashed years ago, so she joined a small but high-profile law firm owned by a friend of her father’s. She makes the most of what is a highly profitable, if not personally rewarding, profession.

When she receives a frantic phone call from a young girl whose father has been hauled off to jail for reasons the police do not divulge, Olivia is reluctant to help. That is until the girl reveals her father’s name: Olivia is shocked to learn that he is Jack Harris, her former fiancé from college days. Jack has been apprehended as the prime suspect in the shooting murder of three people in cold blood during an early morning jog in Battery Park.

"This thought-provoking novel is brilliantly crafted, with a compelling and complex plot."

Thus begins a drama of self-reflection and growing doubt in a system that has caused Olivia to become a cynical participant in the rules of the game. She succeeds in getting Jack released on bail under house arrest while she sifts through mountains of evidence that begin to point to his guilt. She remains steadfastly certain that the man she loved would never be capable of such a brutal crime.

This thought-provoking novel is brilliantly crafted, with a compelling and complex plot. Olivia Randall is a bold and sometimes unlikable protagonist who is confronted with personal demons that test not only her legal prowess but also her personal values. Yet you find yourself cheering for her to the very provocative end.

As a long-time admirer of Alafair Burke’s famous father, author James Lee Burke, it is amusing to ponder that age-old argument of nature versus nurture. Burke’s noir detective, Dave Robicheaux, pulls a little girl from the wreckage of a downed plane in the Gulf of Mexico in his second book, HEAVEN’S PRISONERS, whom he names Alafair. Readers of the 18 succeeding installments in the award-winning series have watched the only other Alafair we personally ever heard of grow up in that tumultuous household of one of American noir literature’s most famous characters. By book 20, Alafair Robicheaux is a very grown-up and successful lawyer.

Now, the also very grown-up and accomplished author Alafair Burke is not only a lawyer and former prosecutor but also a professor who teaches criminal law in New York --- not to mention the author of 10 previous bestselling mysteries and now the co-author with Mary Higgins Clark of the Under Suspicion series. So we ask that question: Did growing up in the household of a struggling young author-father influence the real Alafair to become a writer? Probably an unanswerable question, right?

In fact, all I can say is that if I had the opportunity to interview Burke, the first question that would pop into my head would not be the above. As a fan-girl of both father and daughter, I would have to ask her the following: “When you were growing up, did you have a three-legged pet raccoon named Tripod?” The answer just has to be yes, wouldn’t it? Or is it all a figment of my imagination?

Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 29, 2016

The Ex
by Alafair Burke

  • Publication Date: January 31, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 006239049X
  • ISBN-13: 9780062390493