Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Long Gone

Although Long Gone is Alafair Burke’s seventh novel, it is her first standalone thriller.  Not coincidentally, mostly because I have an aversion to starting a fiction series I was not aware of very early on, this is my first experience with an Alafair Burke novel.  It will not, however, be my last.

Alice Humphrey, the heroine of Long Gone, comes from money.  Her father is a still-famous Oscar Award winning movie director and her mother is the actress who retired from films after marrying him.  Even Alice, as a former child actress, is still considered somewhat of a celebrity.  But hard times have come to Alice’s New York City lifestyle – she has been unemployed for way too long, and moving back in with her parents is a short-term solution, at best.

When, out of nowhere, Alice is offered what seems to be her dream job, managing her own art gallery, she only hesitates for a moment before accepting the stranger’s offer.  There is, however, one major catch: once every quarter or so she will be required to show the rather weird artwork produced by the young boyfriend of the gallery’s elderly owner.  Figuring that she can work around that part of the deal, Alice takes the job.

All goes well at first, including the first exhibit of her patron’s chosen artwork, which begins to sell surprisingly well on the Internet after the gallery’s opening night show.  But everything is snatched from Alice in a flash on the morning she comes in to open the gallery and finds it empty of every stick of furniture and artwork that had been there when she left the night before.  All she can find is a dead body: the man who hired her to run the gallery.

Suddenly, Alice is again out of work.  Much worse, she is now an out of work murder suspect.

Author Alafair Burke
Long Gone is full of twists and curves that leave Alice and the reader wondering if anyone can be trusted.  Whose side is the concerned FBI agent really on?  What is Alice’s father hiding?  Does the trusted family lawyer know more than he is willing to discuss with Alice?  Just who are the mystery artist and his billionaire benefactor, and why did they choose Alice for the job?  Is someone framing Alice for murder in order to get even with her father?

Alafair Burke has created a world in which very little is really as it appears to be.  She has populated that world with a cast of characters guaranteed to intrigue and confuse the reader even as the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place.  Do not get over confident – because there are twists and surprises to the very end.  Pay attention, dear reader; this is not one of those thrillers you can read while watching “Dancing with the Stars.”

Rated at: 4.0

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)

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