Long Gone, Alafair Burke's first stand-alone novel, involves main character, Alice Humphrey, who after a job layoff and months of struggling, lands her dream job managing a new art gallery in Manhattan's trendy Meatpacking District. Based on the well-suited corporate rep who hires her, Drew Campbell, the gallery is a passion project for its anonymous, wealthy and eccentric owner. Campbell assures Alice that the owner will be hands-off, allowing her to run the gallery on her own. Her friends are concerned that the job is too good to be true, but Alice sees it as an opportunity to make a name for herself beyond the shadow of her famous father, an award-winning and controversial filmmaker. Everything is going well for Alice until one morning she arrives at work to find the gallery gone -- the space stripped bare and Drew Campbell's dead body on the floor. From that point on Humphrey's dream job is gone and she becomes the center of police attention with nothing to prove her innocence.
Long Gone is an entertaining read that is likely to keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. To Burke's credit, her main character is well-developed, believable and likable enough to make you really care enough about what happens to her; and her cast of secondary credible characters serve the plot well. Further, the plot is, for the most part, fast-paced, contemporary, suspenseful and provides an above average amount of twists and turns right up until the very end. The book, however, is not without (what I view as) two minor flaws, which resulted in my deducting one star from my rating. One flaw pertains to some dialogue between Alice Humphrey and an operator/admin at a media company in which Alice is provided with some very key confidential information based on a single phone call. For me this just didn't ring true. The second flaw pertains to Burke taking a bit too long to tie together the three seemingly random cases being investigated in the story.
While not a perfect book (but then again, how many are?), Long Gone is a book I'd recommend when you're in the mood for good, light escape reading.
I had never read anything by Alafair Burke. She has written two series of three books each. This one is a stand-alone, a suspense novel set in New York City.
The story is about Alice Humphrey, a former child star and daughter of a big name director. She has purposely gone on her own after learning that her father had had affairs, but is having a tough time since she lost her job at a museum. She was an art history major, so she is at the opening of an artist's show when she is approached by a handsome man. They chat and when he learns about her art background, he offers her a job managing a new gallery. He says she would be required to show some "unconventional" photographs done by the owner's boy toy several times a year, but in between she could select the art for the gallery. The job sounds too good to be true, but at the end of the day she desperately needs work and decides to sign on. A few days later her boss, the handsome guy, asks her to meet him early at the gallery. She arrives to find the windows covered with brown paper and the gallery empty except for his quite dead body in a pool of blood. The prime suspect? Alice of course.
I had a problem with the beginning of this book. Several story lines are introduced in separate chapters, none of them seeming to have any relationship to the others. For instance, there is a missing 16 year old girl from New Jersey. What? Then there is Alice's brother who is a recovering drug addict. Several times I had to turn back to read again who a character was and what their story was. Of course everything eventually comes together and once you get into the book it becomes absorbing, if a little confusing.
I don't normally try to solve the mystery in a good book because I enjoy just going along for the ride. Surprise me. In Long Gone I don't think I could have solved it if I had tried. The convoluted twists and turns are beyond my imagination but always make sense. However, I think if I had time I would read the book again to see if my impression that there is a lack of foreshadowing is true. You may be a better puzzle solver than I am, or less gullible, but I would bet everyone will be shocked at the end.
I do recommend this book and this author. Burke has been a prosecutor and a police advisor. She lives in New York. All of this lends itself to sense of actually being in the city. For myself, I intend to find and read her two series, one about a NYPD detective, and the other about a Portland Deputy District Attorney. Happy reading.
I would have given this novel a rating of 4/5 if only part one of the novel hadn't been so thoroughly confusing. The introduction had so many narrators that I struggled to keep the stories straight, and it wasn't until the pieces came together that I started to enjoy this book. As far as suspense goes, there are many plot lines that get you hooked into the story, and then many twists that you don't see coming. Alice's character learns a lot about herself and her relationships with her family that make you want to know more about how she turns out in the end. I think that any fans of suspense will appreciate the police/lawyer angles in the story, and since I have been watching too much courtroom TV lately I was grateful for the layman's terms that Ms. Burke easily uses to help the reader understand and appreciate these situations in her writing.
Reviewed by Gabi for Book Sake.
After many months of joblessness, Alice attends an opening at a former cutting edge artist in a NY gallery. She meets Drew Campbell, a business recruiter, who is looking for someone to run a contemporary art gallery for his rich closeted friend and after chatting her up, offers her the job she has been dreaming of since she got her MFA and went to work for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Things go smoothly securing the gallery space, hanging the show for the consort of said rich closeted friend, making those first sales online until Alice comes in to open one morning and finds Drew sprawled in the middle of the gallery....in a pool of blood. Suddenly there's a picture of Alice kissing Drew, Alice's name on the gallery lease, and missing gloves with traces of gunshot residue.
While Alice's storyline is the main focus, we have two concurrent plotlines of a seemingly unrelated story of a teenage missing girl, her single mother and the police detective Morhart's investigation and FBI agent's Hank Beckman's trailing of a scuzbag who was involved in his sister's death. The author gradually reveals how these threads intertwine and every chapter has a new reveal.
Tightly written, Long Gone sheds some light on the contemporary art gallery scene to newcomers and gives you better insight to life in the Big Apple without having to endure its noise, dirt and jumbled humanity. While the first third of the book drags a little, once the characters are set up, the story rockets along. You end up cheering for these characters after all the stuff they go through-and that ultimately is the final assessment of the impact of this story.
on June 23, 2011
Alice Humphrey is looking for the perfect job, working somewhere in the art world. Determined to support herself, she cuts herself off financially from her parents, Oscar Award winning director, Frank Humphrey, and his beautiful wife, former actress, Rose. While attending an opening at a gallery she meets Drew Campbell. Almost immediately he offers her the chance of a lifetime. He would like her to manage the new Highline Gallery that his client, a reclusive billionaire, is opening. She will virtually have free reign to do whatever she wants, with one stipulation: she must showcase the controversial work of a good "friend" of the owner. The work must be shown for a specific period of time, several times a year. After that, the gallery is hers to do with what she wants.
It seems like everyone has a secret. Hank Beckman, an FBI agent, has already been officially disciplined for "stalking" the man he is convinced had something to do with his sisters' death. He's been good for the past two months, but now feels the urge to just do one little drive by of the guys place. What could it hurt? But he sees something that doesn't make sense and he can't seem to leave it alone. Then there's Becca Stevenson, your typical teenage girl. Excited with the prospect of the cute boy in school actually liking her, she contemplates sexting with him. But there is also a mysterious someone she is talking to. And then one night Becca doesn't come home, and her single-mother Joann is devastated. Especially when she learns that her not-so-perfect daughter has been keeping secrets from her. Even Alice's parents and her brother Ben have parts of their lives they would rather remain hidden.
Despite the fact that the work being shown at the gallery is a bit on the dubious side, the opening appears to go well. That is until the protestors arrive, picketing outside and claiming that the work being shown is child pornography. That the body images are those of pre-pubescent girls. Alice's small little gallery soon becomes national news and suddenly her world implodes around her. She cannot get a hold of Drew, the gallery has been emptied, as if it never existed in the first place, and a dead body is found inside. When nothing that Alice tells the police proves true, she becomes suspect number one. Almost as if that role was created for her. Could it have been? Suddenly everything is seeming as if it is just a little too good to be true.
Alice soon understands that it is up to her, and her alone, to prove her innocence. She must figure out what all these random things ~ the mystery artist and his work, the reclusive billionaire, the family lawyer, the protestors, a BMW, the fingerprints of missing teen Becca, in the gallery, the "casting couch" allegations against her father, ITH corporation, the company name on her paycheck, the mystery man Hank is shadowing, and one fateful night years ago ~ have to do with the dead body in her gallery. Will she stick around to face the music or will she be long gone when it's time to accept the consequences?
Long Gone is Alafair Burke's first stand-alone thriller and it has no trouble standing on its own two feet. It grabs you from the get go right up until its stunning conclusion. Just when you think you have it all figured out, another twist knocks you around and you need to rethink your previous conclusions. Ms. Burke has an inherent talent for bringing her readers right into the pages of the book, making you feel as if you are living the story along with Alice and everyone she comes into contact with. Long Gone is an engaging read, with a new protagonist you'll enjoy getting to know and who you will continually root for, an interesting supporting cast of characters, each with their own six-degrees-of-separation connection to the murderer,and a multifaceted plot that constantly surprises the reader. Without a doubt, Long Gone should be on every mystery reader's must-read list. An engrossing thriller that can hold its own against any other in its genre.
Long Gone started off as what I thought would be a great suspense novel by an author whose work I truly enjoy reading.
Half-way through, I was so drawn in, my head was spinning. By the very end, I was speechless.
The major plot of this novel, which is the first "stand alone" novel by author Alafair Burke, revolves around Alice Humphrey, who having been out of work for a while, lands a dream job managing an art gallery in Manhattan's Meatpacking District.
Alice knows nothing about the gallery owner,but Drew Campbell, the man who offers Alice the job, assures her that the owner prefers to remain anonymous and will let Alice handle running the gallery as if it were her own. It sounds too good to be true, but Alice is excited for the opportunity to not have to look for any financial support from her famous Hollywood director father.
All is working out well with the gallery until the morning after the gallery's opening night,when Alice arrives to find Drew dead and everything missing from the gallery. Police are questioning Alice and she cannot give them any answers. She has never met or even seen a photo of the artist who's work was displayed, she has no idea who the owner is and it turns out the man she knew as Drew Campbell was using fake identity.
Meanwhile, across the Hudson in New Jersey, a young girl is missing and it is looking like there may be links between her and the gallery. Alice begins to see signs that someone is setting her up and as she digs deeper for answers, more and more secrets are revealed, including ones involving Alice's own family.
I have enjoyed Alafair Burke's past novels, and when I found out she was releasing her first stand-alone, I was eager to read it. When an advanced readers copy became available from the Amazon Vine review program, I jumped at the opportunity to be one of the first to read this new suspense novel from what I consider to be one of the finest of today's authors.
This novel not only lived up to my expectations, it exceeded them way beyond what any suspense novel has in recent time. Intertwining murder, a missing girl, and lots of secrets, the twists and turns kept on coming from all directions. It kept me guessing and just when I thought I had it all figured out-another another twist hit me. I was literally gasping out loud!
This may be Alafair Burke's first stand-alone, but I sure hope it's not her last.
Lisa Scottoline's blurb is a great hint. Although Burke has her own voice, her style, plot and characters will draw praise from Scottoline fans who are impatiently waiting for Lisa's next offering. The combo of fast-paced writing, sophisticated contemporary style, believable flawed-but-likeable characters ... it's hard to find a mystery that meets these standards today.
Long Gone is one of the rare books that's hard to put down. The plot does have many twists and turns but it worked for me. The beginning is especially powerful: many of us can relate to Alice's predicament. It's easy to second-guess her judgment but I found myself thinking, "How many readers would have done the same thing?" Most people wouldn't fall into this kind of trap but many do grab what seem to be lifelines while they ignore red flags flying all over the place.
The energy and pace never stopped. I didn't try to guess the ending and was never tempted to peek ahead. The ending was satisfying: all the elements were tied together in a surprising but believable way.
Great book! When's the next one coming out?
Alafair Burke uses the old innocent victim plot here. Alice, out of work for months, finds the too good to be true job at a gallery, the gallery vanishes, the guy who hired her is murdered, the police consider her a suspect, and so forth. If Hitchcock had filmed it he probably would have cast Doris Day as Alice.
But of course intrepid Alice, doing everything you're not supposed to do (a prerequisite for these sorts of tales), tries her best to extricate herself from peril, with the aid of an odd assortment of characters.
The scene is present-day New York City for the most part, with excursions outside of town, especially in the two sub-plots, which you'll probably suspect will turn out to be part of the main plot. You'd be right.
The author can do intricate plotting and dialogue that seems real, and she makes those minor characters (also a prerequisite for these sorts of tales), the ones who so helpfully turn up to supply missing bits of information, seem believeable.
on August 7, 2011
I ordered Long Gone because the reviews were good and I love a mystery. It sounded intriquing -- the idea that a young woman could be duped into running an art gallery that was a front and then be accused of the murder of the man she worked for. Sounded great.
The problem is that it is a mystery novel entirely without suspense, with shallow characters that it's hard to care about and a plot so predictable that it left me shaking my head in wonder that it was ever published in the first place (or why I finished reading it).
And suffice it to say that it seems to follow Mystery 101 with the revelation of the actual villain in the end. I think I might have made a rude sound when the murderer was revealed -- illogical, out of left field and not believable.
It was dull, lacked suspense and I never cared about a single character.
Put this writier up against the likes of Elizabeth George and she simply disappears!
on January 8, 2012
This book was a very good book about a very twisted party that lead the authorities to relate the wrong person to a murder. I hate to say too much about the story so as not to ruin it for others. It also deals with losing your identity and the police being so busy that they cannot get beyond "tunnell vision" Alafair Burke is an great writer; I have read all of her novels, and I liked all of them, and this is her first stand alone novel.