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Review: Alafair Burke's 'The Ex' is a relatable, superb thriller

The end of a relationship evokes many emotions — relief, regret, guilt, shame, to name just a few. Those feelings play a paramount part in Alafair Burke's superb stand-alone thriller The Ex. In this cerebral mystery, Burke delivers a multilayered plot that explores relationships and manipulation in a rich character study.

New York City defense attorney Olivia Randall has felt a torrent of feelings since she callously ended her relationship years ago with her ex-fiance Jack Harris, who eventually married a teacher, Molly. But Jack's happily ever after ended three years ago when Molly was killed in a mass shooting.

Now Jack's 15-year-old daughter, Buckley, reaches out to Olivia. Jack has been implicated in a triple homicide; one of the victims may have been partly responsible for Molly's death. Against her boss' advice, Olivia takes his case, hoping to clear Jack's name. An elusive piece of evidence is the identity of a stranger whom Jack was to have been meeting the day of the murder.

As the case continues, Olivia begins to wonder how well she knows Jack — has this sensitive, all-around nice guy changed through the years? Or was his personality just a facade hiding a darker side?

Burke's superb grasp of the intricacies of the human heart is augmented by the intricate suspense she realistically builds throughout The Ex. Anyone who has a former boyfriend or girlfriend will be able to relate to Olivia's situation.

Burke continues her affinity for strong characters in The Ex. The self-confident Olivia is used to handling difficult celebrity clients, but finds herself on shaky ground with a case this personal. And like Jack, she also is full of secrets and presents a different face to the public than when she is at home.

The Ex doesn't let up until the final, believable twist, securing once again Burke's solid reputation for storytelling.

The Ex

By Alafair Burke

Harper, 320 pages, $26.99

Review: Alafair Burke's 'The Ex' is a relatable, superb thriller 03/02/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 2, 2016 11:02am]
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