‘The Ex’ offers compelling read

Posted February 17, 2016

“The Ex”
By Alafair Burke


Alafair Burke brings nonstop conflicting thoughts into the mind of her readers in her new novel “The Ex.”

The novel questions one’s innocence intertwining guilt and revenge of one shocking relationship from the past to the present. “The Ex” features a high profile attorney named Olivia Randall, who must help Jack Harris her former fiancé, who may or may not have killed three people, including the father of the boy responsible for his wife’s death.

The novel is centered on the painful regrets and trauma that both Olivia and Jack have encountered in their lives together. It causes you to question whether you can fully believe whether Jack is being truthful about his innocence.

After being contacted by her former fiancé’s daughter Buckley to help, Olivia finds herself reflecting on a time when she was young in love and tortured by her past actions that have resulted in the present events. We are taken through multiple flashbacks to when Olivia and Jack was a young couple in love and the events that took place. We are told in the beginning of the novel that Olivia truly ruined Jacks life but the reader does not learn fully why until close to the end of the book.

Burke writes, “No, you have to help him. It’s the least you can do after the way you treated him. You’re saying I know you father? My name is Buckley Harris. My father’s Jack Harris. Jack Harris. The name hit me in the gut so hard that I tasted last night’s grappa at the back of my throat. “

Burke is a New York Times bestselling author who has written 13 other novels. She is also a former prosecutor and is now a law professor in Manhattan. Alafair uses her expertise in the legal system to provide a clear detailed story surrounding the legal and trial scenario the characters go through. She finds ways to explore issues our society is facing in her work. Burke’s writing is easy and engaging that creates characters that are worth investing in.

Throughout the novel, this can be seen through issues such as mass shootings, infidelity and catfishing. Infidelity reoccurs throughout the book and we are shown the consequences behind it and how she makes it justified.

Burke writes “For every generation of America had at least one day where they all could remember where they were when they heard the news. For New York City, the most recent of those searing, scarring events was the Penn Station Massacre. A mass shooting broke out in the heart of the city thirteen people dead, Burke wrote.“

Catfishing, which is the act of luring someone into a relationship by means of using a fictional online persona, was also brought into the novel.

“Damnit. What if I made Jack to identifiable in the missed moment post? Madeline could be a catfish. “

Olivia is thrown into an unusual situation representing her ex fiancé Jack. Readers learn the interesting and painful past that has resulted in the enormous amount of guilt Olivia has towards Jack that forces her to take on the case. Readers are taken on a rollercoaster of emotions believing and doubting Jack’s innocence. We are taken through a journey of Jack’s past and the mass shooting that occurred three years earlier killing his wife.

Jack forms an enormous amount of hatred towards the shooters father and we learn that one of the victims Jack is charged for killing is in fact the father as well as someone connected to Jacks past. We are shown as the book progresses that not everything is black and white.

Olivia said, “I know him at his core. The entire reason Jack and I didn’t work out was because I knew him better than he knew himself. He didn’t do this. You have no idea just how much I owe him.

“But than this statement is contrasted later on in the novel when Olivia say’s, “Now that I can tell when you’re lying to me, I can’t help but wonder how many times I missed the signs.”

All of the characters in the book have flawed personalities. They each have a secret side of themselves they are hiding and we continue to find these secrets out. These moments of clarity create new ideas on what we believe is the truth. Through these characters, Burke causes you to question these characters in what could have happened. It is impossible to stop thinking about whom we can believe and trust.

Burke created a fresh story line of a highly skilled but flawed female attorney given a chance to save her ex boyfriend who she burned 20 years ago, which allowed for readers to not have a pre set idea on how the story might go.

The book compels you too keep reading to figure out the situation. This gripping legal, mystery thriller touches on love, loss, revenge and regret. Burke writes in a very clear and steady pace that keeps you on your toes as you flip through the pages till the end. The truth behind the murder and Jack’s case does not come out until the very end. Readers will be intrigued and truly baffled until the big reveal. Each new piece of evidence connects the dots and deepens the mystery. It is truly an entertaining read that leaves the readers wanting more.

  • “The Ex” by Alafair Burke
  • Publisher: Harper Collins Publishing New York
  • Publication Date: Jan. 26, 2016
  • Pages: 304
  • Subject: Fiction, mystery, thriller
  • Pricing: $13-$20
  • Availability: EBook, paperback, hardcover