Friday, July 15, 2011

Review: Long Gone by Alafair Burke

Opening lines of the book:

“Alice Humphrey knew the kiss would ruin everything.”

Why I read it:

Although I’m generally not a fan of thrillers, the premise of this one sounded very intriguing and I was in the mood for an exciting read.

What it’s about:

After several months of unemployment, Alice Humphrey is offered a job that sounds too good to be true but also too good to resist: manager of a new Manhattan art gallery in the trendy Meatpacking District. Only a few days after the opening of the gallery’s first (and very controversial) show, Alice walks into a nightmare: the gallery has been cleaned out and the man who recruited her for the job is dead on the floor. Alice soon finds herself the prime suspect in a murder investigation.

What worked:

Long Gone by Alafair Burke did come with a warning of sorts, blurbed across the top of the cover, in fairly big letters: “Should come with a warning . . . highly addictive” (according to Karin Slaughter). Except I paid no attention to the warning—not being much of a thriller reader, I’ve never read Slaughter, so didn’t know I should trust her judgement. Instead I innocently started reading this book in the middle of the week, on a day when I needed to eat and work and then sleep. But forget eating, working or sleeping—I needed to know what was going to happen to Alice! Thank goodness I’m a freelancer who can take a “mental health” day without telling anyone it’s because I’m addicted to a book!

Long Gone is more than Alice Humphrey’s story; it’s also the story of Joann and her teenage daughter Becca (who has a secret or two), and of Hank Beckman, who’s obsessed with a man who may have had something to do with his sister’s death. Burke juggles all these well-rounded characters expertly—I was intrigued to see how they would connect (although I did guess one link before it was revealed) and thought the three story lines added to the narrative tension.

What didn’t work:

Unfortunately, the ending to Long Gone didn’t live up to the rest of the book. Up until the pieces started falling into place, I was willing to buy the whole story, but the ending seemed too far-fetched (and kinda came out of left field too). Plus I hated the fact that one of the stories was tied up within another one (we hear what happened to the characters from one of the three narrative strands via another character, rather than directly from them)—it made their story seem lesser somehow, not worthy of having its own separate ending.

Final thoughts:

Generally, if I dislike the ending of a movie, it’s a deal breaker, but I tend to be more forgiving when it comes to books (maybe because I’ve spent more time with the characters). Despite my disappointment in the ending of Long Gone, I recommend this one if you’re looking for a day or two of addictive escapist reading!

Thank you to Tina at Bookshipper for giving me this book to read.

Other reviews:

BookshipperBook TwirpsIn one eye, out the otherIn Real LifeJen’s Book ThoughtsLazy Day Books BlogLinus’s BlanketSarah Reads Too MuchViews from the CountrysideWhimpulsiveZelda’s Reviews

Interview with the author: A Conversation with Alafair Burke @ Mulholland BooksLinus’s Blanket


  1. I like a mystery to be solvable to the reader and not come out of left field. I would still give Burke's writing a try because I keep hearing good things about it.

  2. I think this one sounds great as I am a huge fan of Slaughter's books. I hope the ending doesn't make me want to throw the book at a wall!! ;D
    Great review!

  3. Oh no the ending did not measure up. I love it when you wind up enthralled to a point of addiction when reading a good book. Sorry to hear the ending fizzled out but it was still worth it for the thrill at the beginning, right :)

  4. I love it when I can't put down the book I'm reading. I also enjoy a really good thriller.
    I didn't think thrillers were generally a genre you read so when I saw your review I was curious.

    I also wanted to know your thoughts on this book because I recently reviewed "212" by Alafair Burke, the most recent in one of her mystery series. I'm sorry to say that book didn't work for me at all. But I'd read some reviews of Long Gone, a stand-alone thriller and I liked the premise.

    After reading your review, I think I'm going to list this book on my TBR list (with a note to self!)
    Thank you :o)