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Two lively thrillers merge in 'Never Tell'

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 12:07 PM

"Never Tell," by Alafair Burke (Harper)

Ellie Hatcher, an NYPD detective, returns in a baffling case involving cyberstalking and a teenage suicide in Alafair Burke's new suspense novel, "Never Tell."

The daughter of a prominent music-industry producer is found in the bathtub with her wrists slit. A note on her bed says it's a suicide. When Hatcher and her partner arrive, the grieving mother pulls them aside and tells them her daughter would not kill herself. Hatcher, out of compassion, agrees to investigate.

Burke has a knack for making New York come vibrantly alive on the page. While immersing the reader in the apparent suicide case, she also introduces a traumatized woman who overcomes her tragic past by writing a blog. Her entries reveal an abusive childhood, and the woman hopes that by chronicling what happened to her, she can overcome her feelings and help others with similar experiences. While most of the followers of her writing are thankful for her personal reflections, one person takes the opportunity to deliver threats. Her fear begins to return.

These two seemingly different storylines converge in a shocking way, demonstrating Burke's remarkable abilities as a writer. Hatcher starts looking at the suicide victim's friends and starts to unravel a world of designer drugs, sex and high-society secrets. Then she discovers the blog and the threats. The reader knows the cases are connected, but the how and the why are surprising. Hatcher is a complex character, and her journey both personally and professionally will have even the most jaded suspense aficionado rapidly turning the pages. Burke handles potentially graphic and sordid subjects like child abuse and teen suicide with care as she examines the psychological aftermath rather than the gory intimate details.

Burke, author of last year's amazing "Long Gone," has delivered another winner.

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