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Missing Justice (Samantha Kincaid Mysteries) Hardcover – June 2, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Burke's lively second Samantha Kincaid mystery (after 2003's Judgment Calls), the Deputy District Attorney has just joined the Major Crimes Unit in Portland, Ore., when a local judge, Clarissa Easterbrook, goes missing and is then found murdered. As Kincaid sifts through possible suspects, she also adjusts to the personalities in her new office, including her surprisingly friendly supervisor. Evidence of the judge's affair with a politician and an increasingly confusing crush of contracts, judgments and financial papers make it difficult to believe that Kincaid would seriously consider Melvin Jackson, a poor black man, as the likely murderer. A former drug addict, Jackson was in danger of losing custody of his kids in a case Easterbrook was considering just before her death. Eventually, Kincaid turns to a more obvious source of trouble. Kincaid is an appealing if perhaps too familiar a type—a slightly seasoned, feisty woman who runs impressive distances and confides her endearing foibles to the reader. Burke does a good job of integrating the political and personal lives of her characters, with the detectives of the Major Crimes Unit being particularly well drawn. Witty and concise dialogue helps redeem the somewhat stiff plotting.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Clarissa Easterbrook was a judge in Portland, Oregon, and the wife of a prominent surgeon--until her lifeless body was found near a construction site at the city's edge. Samantha Kincaid, new to the district attorney's Major Crimes Unit, is assigned the case. When Samantha learns that Clarissa was having an affair, suspicion centers on the spouse. Could the doctor have been inspired to perform cranial surgery with a hunk of granite? But the forensic evidence forms a circumstantial case against a former drug addict who could lose his home and possibly his kids based on a ruling by the late judge. As Samantha digs, however, it seems less likely that this was a crime of passion or anger. The second Kincaid mystery by the daughter of James Lee Burke is a very clever whodunit long on red herrings, shadowy motives, and sly humor. The author's background as a former deputy DA in Portland lends gritty ambience to this modern parable of greed and ambition. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Samantha Kincaid Mysteries (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (June 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805073922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805073928
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #593,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Untouchable on November 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Following on from her strong debut legal thriller, JUDGMENT CALLS, Alafair Burke has continued the Samantha Kincaid series with another intriguing story with MISSING JUSTICE. Samantha Kincaid is a Deputy District Attorney with the DA's office in Portland, Oregon and has just been promoted to the Major Crimes Division, the team that investigates and prosecutes homicide cases. She is thrown straight into the deep end with this case, her first after the trauma of the previous book.

The case starts out as a missing person case, made high profile because the missing person was Appeals Court judge Clarissa Easterbrook. Samantha is given the assignment of lending reassurance to Clarissa's husband. Townsend. It's not long before the missing person case turns into a murder case when Clarissa's body is found. The fact that it is a judge who has been murdered gives the case added importance and, for Samantha, added pressure. But this is the kind of case that Samantha thrives on and is eager to prove that she's up to the challenge that her new promotion has provided.

Although a suspect is charged and the legal proceedings get underway with Kincaid prosecuting, Samantha comes across evidence that casts doubt on her own case. Apart from the obvious problems involved with sabotaging her case, Samantha isn't quite sure exactly how it all ties together and so begins running her own investigation, by necessity without police help because by this stage it is officially a closed case. The progress she makes is slow and, at times confusing, and is also at the expense of a few high profile toes, arousing the interest of the DA, making for a few fiery confrontations.

This story boils down to one question: why would an Appeals Court judge be murdered?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sam Fan on June 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Based on the strong recommendation from Michael Connelly, I gave this book a try, and I'm definitely glad that I did.
Sam Kincaid is a tough Assistant DA paying her dues in the gritty world of crime and punishment in Portland, Oregon. She gets transferred to the Major Crimes Unit just in time to follow the trail of missing judge Clarissa Easterbrook. She uncovers a great deal of interesting facts along the way, which give the reader keen insight into the political and socio-economic realities of a growing city like Portland.
All the while, Sam manages to find time for a personal life made colorful by her friends, hunky boyfriend and supportive father.
The pacing of the story is great and accurately reflects the busy hum of modern life. All readers can identify with Sam Kincaid as she struggles to work hard and make a name for herself, but not become cynical and jaded. The verbal exchanges she has with co-workers (cops and lawyers) are tart and no-nonsense, reflecting the pressure of dedicating oneself to the cause of criminal justice.
Overall, I think the publishing community will be hearing alot from Ms. Burke in the near future. I liked this book so much, I just picked up her first "Judgment Calls" and can't wait to devour it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By FictionAddiction.NET on January 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Due to the recent death of the former supervisor, a domino effect of promotions has placed Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid in the Major Crimes Unit. She's just returned from a much-needed vacation following her last case with the Drug and Vice Division, which ended with a few dead bodies lying around her home.

Samantha's first case involves missing Administrative Law Judge Clarissa Easterbrook. It initially seems to be as simple as babysitting until the judge shows back up.

When the body is recovered instead, Samantha's in for more work than she bargained for. The distraught husband would normally be the key suspect, but the investigation turns the authorities elsewhere.

The evidence seems clear enough and the case appears to be open-and-shut. Samantha, however, gets some information that doesn't quite click and her plucky determination dictates she dig deeper...even if it's not what the boss wants.

Finding out the truth will effect more than just the outcome of the case. It will also reveal a secret that's been kept for several years within Samantha's own family...a secret that proves Clarissa's murder to be anything but routine and once again puts Samantha's own life in jeopardy.

Missing Justice is a compelling novel of murder, lies and dangerous hidden objectives that span decades. Samantha Kincaid is a no-holds-barred investigative attorney who shows the fiction world what a strong woman can do.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Bull on May 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
And so we have here Alafair's second book, "Missing Justice". We agree that whether or not she got published through dad's (James Lee Burke) connections matters not, as this high achiever (Stanford Law School grad, former ADA in Portland OR) obviously herself has what it takes to write a fascinating story. Moreover, the novel is so laced with real life, one learns a lot about workplace issues as a prosecutor, rural land space versus urban growth debates, and the relationship between the cops and the DA's office.

Recently promoted to the Major Crimes Unit, leading lady (and like the author) Portland Assistant DA Samantha Kincaid catches a first case reeling with publicity (and duplicity) when it turns out the missing person turned murder victim, Clarissa Easterbrook, was a sitting local judge of some import in the civil community. It soon enough turns out a black man who had been threatening the judge (due to possibly losing custody of his kids) did the deed, confirmed by plenty of physical evidence. The police get a quick close and the courtroom scenes become little more than a precursor to a plea bargain. But Kincaid smells a rat when too many coincidences start to point to some sort of conspiracy involving land use, permits granted or denied, and unusually generous contributions to a hospital wing her ex-doc husband is trying to fund and build as a legacy. When an affair of the heart between Easterbrook and a small-time politico adds to Kincaid's doubts, our ADA begins plying these nefarious leads into a full-blown alternative to the solution that surfaced so quickly and easily. After many entertaining twists and turns, the truth starts to come out.

This story is well-conceived and well-written, and Kincaid is a very believable and likable character.
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