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Close Case (Samantha Kincaid Mysteries) Hardcover – June 16, 2005

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Product Details

  • Series: Samantha Kincaid Mysteries (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (June 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805077847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805077841
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #454,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Burke's absorbing third Samantha Kincaid mystery (after 2004's Missing Justice), the 32-year-old deputy DA and her just-moved-in lover, Det. Chuck Forbes, look into the murder of Percy Crenshaw, a popular investigative reporter and liaison to the Portland, Ore., minority community, who's found bludgeoned to death after a protest over a police shooting with racial overtones. Careful scrutiny of video footage unearths a couple of meth-headed hoodlums who were in the right place at the right time for the crime. Chuck's partner elicits a confession, and the case seems wrapped. When the ill-gotten confession is deemed inadmissable, the wavering line between loyalty to Chuck and Samantha's prosecutorial integrity becomes the catalyst for a breakup. Meanwhile, budding journalist Heidi Hatmaker, eager to break into the crime beat, studies Crenshaw's cryptic notes and surmises that the reporter's recent surveillance of questionable police activity may have led to his demise. A former deputy DA herself, Burke confidently lays out the procedural details, but she's less sure at rendering complex personal relationships.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Usually, district attorneys and cops play well together; they're both on the same team, after all, trying to rid the streets of crime. But something's gone awry in Portland, Oregon, and Deputy DA Samantha Kincaid finds herself in the middle of a very ugly political battle. Samantha is called to the scene of a brutal murder--the victim being Percy Crenshaw, a well-known investigative reporter. Tension in the DA's office is already high, thanks to a shooting in which a Portland cop, with less than reasonable cause, killed a young mother. An arrest comes quickly in the Crenshaw case, but then one of the suspects recants his confession, claiming police brutality. The deeper Samantha digs, the more cops--including, potentially, her live-in boyfriend--turn on her, and the more it looks like the fix is in. Burke, daughter of author James Lee Burke and once a Portland prosecutor herself, delivers a politically charged, gritty thriller in this third entry in the Samantha Kincaid series. Mary Frances Wilkens
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Alafair Burke is the author of "two power house 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. Dennis Lehane has called her "one of the finest young crime writers working today."

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.

She lives in New York City and spends too much time on Facebook and Twitter, but has no plans to quit.

Learn more about Alafair at

Customer Reviews

Her stories are compelling and her character development deep.
D. Green
Although Sam loves her job and is very good at putting bad guys behind bars, she is often conflicted about how to behave in morally ambiguous situations.
E. Bukowsky
Too much of the same old same old in this entry in the Samantha Kincaid books.
M. C. Carter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Thirty-two year old Samantha Kincaid, the protagonist of Alafair Burke's new thriller, "Close Case," is the Deputy District Attorney for Multnomah County in Portland, Oregon, as well as the newest member of the Major Crimes Unit. Although Sam loves her job and is very good at putting bad guys behind bars, she is often conflicted about how to behave in morally ambiguous situations. "Close Case" throws Sam into plenty of hot water, and she soon gets scalded.

When black investigative reporter Percy Crenshaw is beaten to death outside his condo, Sam is asked to oversee the case. Crenshaw had been driving an S-Class Mercedes Benz just before he was murdered. Was he the victim of a carjacking gone wrong or did the killer have a personal vendetta against him? Another high profile incident involves Delores Tompkins, an unarmed African American woman who was fatally shot through the windshield of her car by a Portland patrol officer. Both cases are politically sensitive. Sam's boss, District Attorney Duncan Griffith, is wary of the fallout from the media and civil rights groups. To make matters worse for Sam, her live-in boyfriend, Detective Chuck Forbes, doesn't always agree with the way that Sam does her job.

Alafair Burke's experience as a former deputy district attorney lends authenticity to this gritty and complicated police procedural. She details the tough lives that district attorneys and cops lead, with the never-ending demands on their time, patience, and energy. Sam is an engaging character, and her desire to follow her instincts and always do the right thing brings her into inevitable conflict with her supervisor and her boyfriend.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Alafair Burke has shrugged off comparisons to her famous mystery-writer father and shown she has a style all her own. The Samantha Kincaid series is full of legal complexity, tightly spun plots, and an engaging female lead.

Samantha is a living, breathing character. It's hard not to like this lady. Sam's a tough cookie, but she has a heart underneath her protective exterior. She also knows the ins and outs of the justice system. Once again, she is thrust into a murder mystery set in Portland, Oregon. This time, an investigative reporter has paid the ultimate price in his search for the truth. Samantha will risk her career, her friendships, and even love in an effort to get to the bottom of this violent act.

Burke's strengths can sometimes be a weakness. She is so adept at conveying the inner workings of prosecutor and police procedures that she occasionally loses my emotional connection to the story. Fortunately, this happens only once or twice, and Burke grabs me again with her ability to wind readers deeper and deeper into a mystery. Only as the last pages turn do we discover all the layers involved.

With "Close Case," Alafair Burke proves that she is a writer standing on her own merits, a writer who will be around for years to come. And I, for one, am thankful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Laurel Johnson on June 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Realistic characters living and working in a fascinating mileu, skillful plotting, and an astute prose style make this book a standout.

Deputy DA Samantha Kincaid is a member of the prestigious Major Crimes Unit in Portland, Oregon. Her reputation as a savvy attorney and investigator has been earned in the trenches. Whether law enforcement peers like her or not, they respect her intelligence and instincts. She has a brisk no- nonsense personal style and the uncanny knack of winning when the chips are down. Two unrelated cases put her life and reputation in jeopardy.

The shooting of an unarmed black female civilian by a white cop has Portland's nerves on edge. Angry civilians are convinced the shooting was racially motivated. Then Portland's celebrity muckraker, Percy Crenshaw -- also black -- is bludgeoned to death just outside his apartment. Civilians are outraged by his murder; Kincaid and fellow investigators are mystified,

until one suspect confesses to the crime. But will the questionable confession stand up to scrutiny?

Disconnected leads take Samantha from one dead end to another as she investigates both crimes. As she untangles each small clue in Percy Crenshaw's notebooks, it soon becomes apparent that the killings were connected. Even members of the Portland Police Department are suspect, including her boyfriend Det. Chuck Forbes and his loose cannon partner Mike. Regardless of the outcome to her career and love life, Samantha digs for truths that might end up killing her.

Close Case is an exciting suspense thriller, rich with the legal and law enforcement details intelligent readers of the genre crave. Critical praise received for the Samantha Kincaid Series is well-deserved.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on April 18, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read Judgment Calls and Missing Justice recently, and I've enjoyed the series so far. Since Alafair Burke is the daughter of one of my favorite authors, I expected her to be a strong writer. The interesting thing is that she is so unique, very different from her father, and at the same time such a good writer.

For one thing, her main character is a prosecutor in Portland Oregon. Her dad writes about Louisiana and New Orleans, so the contrast is pretty strong. One similarity, though, is that she, like her father, does a wonderful job of evoking the place. I haven't been to Portland since I was a kid, and I remember nothing of it, but I feel like I've visited.

A second thing is the writing style itself. James Lee Burke is one of the best descriptive prose writers alive, as far as I'm concerned. His daughter doesn't have his high-flying skills (not yet anyway) but her plots, if anything, are stronger than her dad's, and her writing is serviceable enough to get her by, and then some.

Lastly, there's her characters. The main character/narrator, Samantha Kincaid, is an interesting person, at times cranky, opinionated, and short-tempered, but always intelligent and quick.

In the current installment, Kincaid starts out handling the killing of a local black newspaper reporter who was known for his investigative pieces. Someone has beaten him to death, and initially it looks like a botched carjacking. The city is already simmering because just a couple of weeks previously a black woman, unarmed, was shot repeatedly by a patrol officer.
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