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If You Were Here: A Novel of Suspense Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062208357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062208354
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Burke seems less confident in this book than she was in Long Gone (2011), her previous stand-alone thriller. Where Alice Humphreys came off as strong and directed in the earlier novel, New Yorker McKenna Wright seems insecure, much less comfortable in her skin. Plotting, too, is a little less focused than usual for Burke, whose Detective Ellie Hatcher series has earned accolades for character development and tightly controlled plotting. Even so, Burke manages to deliver some exciting moments here, as lawyer-turned-journalist McKenna finds her life turned upside down when she recognizes a friend from her college years who disappeared without a trace a decade before on a video of a near-tragedy on the subway. At the same time, McKenna’s career takes a devastating hit when evidence turns up that compromising e-mails she used in an article about a judge originated not from the public but from her own computer. Stubborn curiosity about her friend and anger about unjust accusations propel McKenna forward into what others assert is ridiculously wild speculation. Not Burke’s best, but still a solid thriller that will engage her growing audience. --Stephanie Zvirin


“You know you are in good hands with her, and can relax without wondering if things are going to fall apart midway through. ...Burke’s female characters are always very involving, with big, strong voices.” (Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl, in O, the Oprah Magazine)

“Outstanding….Burke’s accuracy in legal and judicial technicalities is impressive although most readers will find simpler pleasures in her sharp writing, well-constructed plot, and dimensional characters.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Captivating…. Burke excels in writing compelling character-driven stories mixed with baffling mysteries.” (Associated Press)

If You Were Here is a winner: a suspenseful, tightly plotted story of friendship, lies, and betrayal. Alafair Burke writes deftly about secrets buried close to home. An accomplished novel by an assured author.” (Meg Gardiner, author of The Shadow Tracer)

“After finishing If You Were Here, I don’t feel I can trust anyone ever again, except Alafair Burke to provide a cracking good read.” (Linwood Barclay, author of Trust Your Eyes)

“Delivers a cleverly nuanced plot that will keep the pages turning. [Burke’s] smart writing is fast-paced and engaging, and this book should appeal to most mystery readers, especially those looking for compelling, intelligent story lines. . . .. a delight.” (Library Journal)

“The plot complexity of this richly populated book keeps the action pumping, but it is the delicate shifts in perception that intrigue…keeps readers edgily engaged.” (Houston Chronicle)

“Exciting....Lawyer turned-journalist McKenna finds her life turned upside down when she recognizes a friend from her college years who disappeared without a trace a decade before on a video of a near-tragedy on the subway….Will engage [Burke’s] growing audience.” (Booklist)

“One of the more-talented crime writers working today.” (Pittsburgh Tribune)

“Fast-paced nail-biter.” (National Examiner)

“Burke’s first class adventure has murder and mayhem wrapped up in an intricate, innovative plot. Gripping from the first page....Will keep readers guessing until the end.” (RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 stars)

“Nicely crafted, plenty of suspense to go around, a couple of unanticipated twists - what’s not to like?” (BookPage)

If You Were Here veers from one realistic twist to another with aplomb. Years of betrayal, lies and distrust rise to the surface as the suspenseful plot never falters.… Outstanding.” (Sacramento Bee)

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 www.alafairburke.com

Customer Reviews

The plot was interesting and the characters memorable.
Reads Anything
Bogged down by too many explanations, too many unconnected threads, too many unnecessary twist, the book became hard work rather than enjoyable reading.
This book puts you on the edge of your seat in the first chapter ... and keeps you there for the entire book.
Avid Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By E. Burian-Mohr VINE VOICE on June 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
McKenna Wright is an attorney-turned-journalist after a rather inglorious end to her career in law after she jumps to conclusions in a police shooting. She is now covering the story of a mystery woman who dead-lifts a teenager off the tracks seconds before he would be hit by an oncoming subway car. Footage of the incident is inexplicably missing... except for a snippet on someone's cellphone camera. When McKenna sees that, she is convinced that the mystery woman is her friend Susan Hauptman, who vanished without a trace 10 years ago.

McKenna becomes obsessed with finding the woman in question.

Simultaneously, she is pursuing the story of a corrupt judge and, just like the end of her law career, she is fired, disgraced, discredited, and generally humiliated.

So what happened to Susan Hauptman? Alive or dead? Hiding and why?

What is she really up to?

What's going on with the judge scandal?

And why has the last remaining video now vanished?

Fortunately, (or not) McKenna now has LOTS of time on her hands, and can investigate all of these questions, enlisting the aid of the police detective who hates her from years ago, various family members of Susan's into whose homes she bullies her way, and a whole lot of other people who want nothing to do with her.

Sound like a lot going on? Oh yes. Alafair Burke is keeping more plates in the air than most jugglers. And she does tie them all together at the end. But I came away unsatisfied. I was looking forward to a great meal and it was okay.

The tendency of people reading reviews is to read the 5 star reviews and the 1 star reviews. I didn't like it enough for 5. I didn't dislike it enough for 1.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If You Were Here is my first exposure to author Alafair Burke; however, it will not be my last! I can hardly wait to read her debut thriller, Judgment Calls.

An avid reader and fan of suspense thrillers, I was surprised at the quality of writing by an author that I had never heard of. This is one of the most entertaining that I have read in a long time.

Burke masterfully develops a complex storyline with believable and memorable characters. Normally, I am pretty good at guessing at where the story is going and whodunit, but that was not the case with this 358 page gem. The titillating twists and turns in this enjoyable engaging ride had me pivoting one way and then another guessing, figuring out motivations and wondering what was going to happen next.

Ten years earlier, McKenna Wright, then a young Assistant District Attorney was introduced to her future husband, former West Point graduate Patrick Jordan by their friend, Patrick's former classmate, Susan Hauptmann, daughter of an influential two star Army General.

About the time that Susan disappeared, McKenna was discredited and humiliated after going to the press with a story that police hero Officer Scott Macklin shot and killed a young black male Marcus Jones and then planted a gun in the victims hand, Newspaper Editor, gave her a job as a reporter.

Now, a decade later, a young lady captures a video of an unidentified female hero saving Nicky Cervantes, a young high school athlete from certain death from an oncoming train. McKenna thinks that the grainy video is her missing friend Susan.

About that time, McKenna's editor releases her block buster newspaper story involving a corrupt judge. Again, McKenna is discredited, humiliated and fired.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By michael a. draper VINE VOICE on April 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Journalist McKenna Wright sees footage of a woman rescuing a teenager who had fallen onto the train tracks.

McKenna recognizes the woman as an old friend and former classmate of McKenna's husband at West Point. The woman, Susan Hauptmann, had disappeared nearly ten years ago.

Thinking that this might be a story of interest to her paper, McKenna begins looking into Susan's disappearance not realizing that she was putting herself and her husband in danger by doing so.

Also taking up her time, is a story McKenna was working on about a police killing of a young man and a police officer who is accused of shooting the man while the man was unarmed.

McKenna becomes paired with Det. Joe Scanlin who feels that the didn't do justice on Hauptmann's disappearance because of a family issue, Scanlin's wife had been battling early Alzheimer's disease at the time.

Alafair Burke has spun a complex plot that moves along nicely with appropriate tension. The last hundred pages of the story are very exciting as parts of McKenna's investigation and the legal case come together.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Following on the heels of her impressive suspense tale, Long Gone, imaginative novelist Burke brings us yet another artfully plotted, unputdownable story, If You Were Here. So aptly titled because intrepid, impulsive New York City journalist McKenna Jordan believes she has sighted a friend who disappeared a decade ago, Susan Hauptmann.

The sighting took place on an indistinct video showing NYC's latest heroine - a woman who pulled a teenage boy from subway tracks just as a train was shooting toward him. McKenna only had a fast glimpse of her face but believes it is Susan. After all, Susan had been a close friend of hers, and a friend of Patrick's, McKenna's husband. Susan was a West Pointer as was Patrick. Even ten years ago Susan had been a bit of an enigma - she was forced into military life by her father, a general. On campus she was without fault. Yet after hours she could easily turn into a flirtatious gal eager to hook up with fellows she met in bars.

McKenna becomes determined to prove that the woman who saved the young man and Susan are one and the same. But when she shows the image to Patrick he discourages her, saying it couldn't be Susan and suggests McKenna is imagining things, trying too hard just as she did several years ago which caused her not only embarrassment but the loss of her job.

Ignoring Patrick McKenna begins to search on her own which later reveals manufactured emails, the reopening of a decade old Manhattan police shooting, and ultimate danger for Patrick and herself.

Burke has crafted an innovative plot that keeps readers guessing until the end.

- Gail Cooke
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