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Judgment Calls: A Mystery Hardcover – July 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Samantha Kincaid Mysteries (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1st edition (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805073868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805073867
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #949,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Burke's earnest, fast-paced debut introduces a sharp new crime series revolving around Deputy DA Samantha "Sam" Kincaid, a hip, 30ish lawyer working in Portland's Drug and Vice Division. As a former DA herself, and now a teacher of criminal law, Burke brings a hyper-reality-TV quality to the text, as well as a sometimes overzealous attention to technical minutiae. Kendra Martin, 13, has been prostituting herself to support a heroin addiction begun after her mom's boyfriend insisted that "popping wasn't really like shooting up." When Kendra is found left for dead, Kincaid is determined to bring to justice the violent sex offenders who brutally raped and beat her. Narrated in a crisp first person and injected with good-natured humor ("It's a fundamental truth that the number and density of cuss words increases exponentially as the number of cops and DAs in a room goes up"), the book is tightly plotted and detail laden. The secondary characters are less vivid than the assertive, likable Kincaid, but they serve their purpose. Kincaid's ex-boyfriend, Det. Chuck Forbes, is involved in the investigation of Kendra's case and another possibly related crime; Tim O'Donnell, a crude senior DDA on Portland's Major Crimes Team, is suspiciously eager to have Kendra's case tried under his jurisdiction. Cracking the case not only drags up an earlier death-penalty conviction but uncovers the roots of a prostitution ring that shakes up the entire Major Crimes Team and tests Kincaid's faith in her own judgment. This is a solid first effort from Burke, daughter of another "crime fighter writer," James Lee Burke.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This first novel by a former Portland, Oregon, district attorney (and daughter of award-winning crime writer James Lee Burke) introduces D.A. Samantha Kincaid, a sympathetic protagonist and welcome newcomer to the legal-thriller landscape. When a teenage prostitute is raped and left for dead, Kincaid, determined to charge the perpetrator with attempted murder, finds herself investigating a prostitution ring of underage girls and a possible serial killer. Burke blends courtroom drama and criminal investigation with surprising aplomb, and she uses her Northwest setting to good advantage. Stronger subplots and more attention to the development of secondary characters would have helped, but the drama of the main plot should be enough to satisfy most legal-thriller fans. This promising debut augurs well for a successful series; the second Samantha Kincaid novel will appear in spring '04. 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 www.alafairburke.com

Customer Reviews

Her characters are well drawn, and the pace is fast.
JoMama
I enjoyed this book a great deal, and now that I've read the first one I look forward to the next entries in the series.
David W. Nicholas
The story is hard to swallow and the ending is stupid.
Jackie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By J. Holtz on June 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having been a James Lee Burke fan for quite some time, I fully expected to find an intriguing tale, but with JLB overtones. Not at all. Judgement Calls is fast-paced, immediately engaging and definitely the author's own. The dialog is realistic, sharp and often very funny. Burke's Samantha Kincaid is well drawn, an imperfect, thoroughly likable, bright Assistant District Attorney with minor emotional baggage (no angst) and an attitude to which any woman can relate. The other characters are better than adequate; not as detailed as one might like, but their motivations are clearly understood. The story is a gut-wrencher for anyone with teens (and Burke gets the teen attitude down to the rolling-eye sighs!). The story is a little convoluted, perhaps because of the legal details, but it pulls you in and by the end you've got it. I'm glad I started this book on Friday evening, because I was up all night finishing it!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As a loyal James Lee Burke fan, I couldn't pass on the temptation to read his daughter's debut. I knew it would be different from her father's, but I found myself comparing for the first twenty pages or so.
While the prose is lean and gritty--a family writing trait--the inner turmoils are less pronounced and the settings less colorful. Soon, though, I found myself intrigued by this story of an underage prostitute discovered almost dead in the woods outside of Portland, Oregon. I began to care for the female deputy DA as she unraveled the case, as she struggled with her own relational hangups. I turned the pages...and forgot about comparisons.
"Judgment Calls" starts a little rough, reading more like a manual on legal procedures at times, but Alafair Burke knows her stuff and begins to smooth out the ride as the novel progresses. She tells a good mystery, and I look forward to the sequel. Why live in her father's shadow when she can stand admirably on her own! And I'm sure Mr. Burke would agree.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gary Delsohn on September 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you've spent any time inside a DA's office you know Alafair Burke delivers the goods. The story is believable and accurate in tone and detail. The characters seem real and the plot is not some far-fetched Grisham-like fantasy that could never happen in a million years. I enjoyed this book a great deal and have recommended it to several friends. Just because her dad is a legendary writer himself doesn't mean A. Burke doesn't earn her kudos. I am eagerly awaiting her next one.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Suspense & Thriller Lover on September 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This may be the first novel for Alafair (I love that name!) Burke, but she is no novice at writing a gritty,fast-paced, witty page-turner. It must be in the genes! Protaganist, Samantha Kincaid(a Portland DDA) is entirely likeable & this book leaves you wanting more of her, not to mention her old-flame & current Portland detective, Chuck Forbes. I am pleased to know that this is the first in a "Sam Kincaid" series & I eagerly look forward to the next installment!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By SDRTX on October 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Portland, Oregon, Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid, is trying the case of a man who raped and sodomized a young girl who supported her growing heroin addiction with bouts of prostitution. As she is preparing for her straightforward attempted murder trial , it takes some bizarre twists involving child pornography rings, a possible serial killer, and corruption in the DA's office. There is a secondary story involving her on again/off again relationship with her first love Chuck Forbes. Chuck, the son of a former governor, is now detective on the Major Crime Team.
Alafair Burke is former deputy district attorney and is now a law professor at Hofstra School of Law, so she is knowledgeable about her subject matter. The characters were multi-dimensional and well developed. The plot of this story was pretty good, but tended to be slow at times due to the lengthy explanations of the legal process. One annoyance in the book was the liberal use of acronyms. There were too many and it slowed down parts of the story even more. This is a good start to a promising series, but it could have been better if it were better paced.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Alexander B. on March 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Alafair Burke is inevitably tagged as "daughter of James Lee Burke" but don't be put off by that. Ms. Burke is worthwhile in her own right....she is not cruising on her father's fame.

Judgment Calls is the first of what will become the Samantha Kinkaid series. Kincaid is an Asst DA in Portland, OR. In this first novel, Kincaid catches a prostitute murder case.

The characters are well crafted as is the plot. The book is fast-moving and full of enough twists to keep you off-balance and guessing until the end.

Well worth reading and following up the other two now out in the series.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Untouchable on November 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In her debut novel, Alafair Burke introduces us to Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid in an excellent start to what promises to be a very enjoyable series. And the news is good because the second book in the series is already in the works.
Sam Kincaid agrees to take a case that looks like it could be poison from the start. A 13-year-old prostitute and heroin addict has been raped, severely beaten and left for dead by a couple of men. Even though the girl can positively identify one of her attackers, the fact that she's a prostitute and may have been under the influence of drugs at the time will mean the jury may be unsympathetic to say the least. Sam puts a case together regardless and pretty soon the evidence begins building and the case looks stronger all the time. It's only halfway through the trial that things begin to go wrong and the case doesn't look quite so clear cut after all.
This really is a particularly good legal thriller and the fact that it's a debut novel only makes it all the more commendable. Through Sam we are stepped through the legal procedure as seen from the D.A.'s perspective. This could have been quite tedious and boring, but in this case, the telling was anything but. As for the mystery, I thought it was very well constructed, complete with a clever twist or two at the end.
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