Thursday, May 30, 2013

If You Were Here by Alafair Burke - Her 9th, My 1st

If You Were Here is Alafair Burke’s 9th novel – but only my 1st.  In fact, I had never heard of her before getting this ARC from HarperCollins.  I have to say that I liked it quite a bit.  It’s very humbling to learn that there are a ton of authors that I don’t know who have all written a bunch of books.  I would have to read 700 books a year instead of 70 to begin to know who’s out there.

But enough about my literary inadequacy.  If You Were Here has a very intricate plot.  I’ll give you a brief synopsis.  10 years ago, McKenna Wright is a promising ADA (assistant district attorney), until she wrongly accuses a policeman, Officer Macklin, of murdering a street thug.  Her actions create enormous racial tension in NYC and ruin Macklin’s career.  This blow-up leads McKenna to leave the DA’s office, and she ultimately ends up as a journalist for NYC Magazine.  Following so far?

10 years later, McKenna comes across video footage of an old friend, Susan Hauptmann, who saves a teenage boy from being crushed in the New York subway.  Susan has been missing for most of those 10 years.  In her pursuit of Susan, McKenna prints a story about a judge for the magazine that is discredited and, once again, lands her in hot water.  She is fired from the magazine and sets out, on her own, to find out who is working so hard to make her look bad.

I’m actually doing a pretty lousy job of summing this book up.  There is so much that happens that I simply can’t do justice to the synopsis – even though I earlier bragged that I would do just that.  Besides McKenna, Susan, and Officer Macklin, there is a cast of tens, and they all have big parts.  A few of them are:

Patrick Jordan, McKenna’s husband
Joe Scanlin, the detective who handled the shooting 10 years earlier
General and Gretchen Hauptmann, Susan’s sister and father
Will Getty, the district attorney who McKenna worked for at the time of the big fiasco
Carl Buckner, a very bright and conscientious hit man
Adam Bayne, a classmate of Patrick’s and Susan’s at West Point, who goes into business with General Hauptmann
Jamie Mercado, FBI agent
Bob Vance, McKenna’s boss at NYC Magazine
And a bunch more

With as many important and well-developed characters as are in the book, you might think that the story would be hard to follow.  But it’s not.  Each character is well-defined and fits in perfectly with the story and each other.  I liked it a lot and give it a 3 out of 4.  And, by the way, this is my 11th 3 out of 34 books in 2013, plus 5-3.5’s, 1-4.0, and 1-4.5.  That is a percentage of 52.9% that are 3 or higher.  That’s pretty darn good.  I knew you would want to know. 

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