Long Gone by Alafair Burke

Ever since cutting the financial strings from her famous filmmaking father, Alice Humphrey has been struggling. Laid off from her job, it takes her months to find a new one without dad’s help. Alice counts herself a success when she starts managing a trendy art gallery in New York City’s Meatpacking District, with an artist whose provocative work sells like hot cakes, and a mysterious silent backer. But when the gallery disappears and her only contact turns up dead, Alice has yet a new job…clearing herself of murder.

Long Gone, Alafair Burke’s engaging first stand alone novel delivers all the twists and turns needed to keep readers turning the pages. Initially Alice’s story is interspersed with, competing narratives of a reckless teenaged girl, a woman with a new boyfriend and a man doing surveillance – so it’s a little slow to open up. One can only assume that these curious asides will begin to weave themselves into the story, and once the connections begin to take shape, the effect makes for an even more suspenseful read in the wait to see the outcomes to their stories and how they involve Alice.

Underlying the mystery of just what Alice has got herself involved in, is who Alice is as a person. Burke ups the ante with her rendering of Alice’s relationships with her best friend,  on-again/off-again flame, and her troubled and tense relationships with her family (scandal-ridden dad, passive mom, and recovering addict brother). Each relationship presents its own set of difficulties begging for resolution, and the book is as much about Alice’s growth in these relationships as she confronts all the trouble that she’s in. Readers might not figure out everything before the end of this novel, but the craziness makes for a satisfying mystery read.

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