Wednesday, February 26, 2014

REVIEW: Angel's Tip by Alafair Burke

Title: Angel's Tip (Ellie Hatcher #2)
Author: Alafair Burke
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: August, 2008
Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Description: In a city full of victims . . . it's hard to choose just one.

Fresh-faced Indiana college student Chelsea Hart is so excited to spend the final hours of her spring break in the VIP room of an elite New York City club that she remains behind when her girlfriends call it a night. The next morning, as her concerned friends anxiously pace their hotel lobby, joggers find Chelsea's body in East River Park, her wavy blond hair brutally hacked off.

NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher catches the case and homes in on the group of privileged men who were last seen plying Chelsea with free-flowing alcohol. But before she can even gather the preliminary evidence, the gruesome murder is grabbing headlines and drawing unwanted media attention to the department. So when Ellie builds a tight case against Jake Myers, a young hedge fund manager, the department brass and the district attorney's office are elated: the case will soon be cleared, the media will tout the department's quick work, and Ellie will be a dream witness at the trial against Myers.

But Ellie has her doubts. Chelsea's murder is eerily similar to three other deaths that occurred nearly a decade ago: the victims were young, female, and in each case, the killer had taken her hair as a souvenir.

Ellie's investigation pulls her into a late-night world of exclusive clubs, conspicuous wealth, and hedonistic consumption. And her search for the truth not only pits her against her fellow cops but also places her under the watchful eye of a psychopath eager to add the prideful young female detective to his list.

My Thoughts: I usually prefer my mysteries and thrillers on audio. For me, the tension, suspense, anxiety and, yes, sometimes fear are more heightened through the audible performance of the narrator. If done correctly, it makes the story more enjoyable for me. Unfortunately, not every audiobook has provided the nail-biting edge of my seat anticipation. When this happens, I find it a struggle to continue the book. Depending on the story’s subject matter, I may give up on the book entirely or start over with a print edition. I decided to start over with Angel’s Tip. This is the second book in the Ellie Hatcher series and she is a character that intrigued me in the first book, Dead Connection.

This book picks up not long where the first one ended, so I recommend you read this series in order to maintain character and storyline continuity. Ellie has new challenges in this story as well. She still has to prove herself in a Unit where she is the least experienced and where her boss appears to hate her and everything about her. She is given a new partner and she and J.J. Rogan have to learn to work together as a team while getting to know one another. She is also trying to process where her relationship with Peter is going and she still lives with her brother, Jess. A pretty average and typical day in the life of an NYPD Homicide Detective.

As with the last book, I think Ellie is a fantastic character. She maintains her composure when she is face to face with people who are openly hostile, like her boss or with people whose motives I certainly question, like her boyfriend. I enjoy the teamwork and budding friendship between Ellie and Rogan and the domestic relationship between her and her brother. Ms. Burke does an amazing job of creating characters with depth and personalities that are a joy to get to know and understand.

Ellie and Rogan’s first case involves the murder of a college student from Indiana who is visiting Manhattan on her spring break. She has been strangled and stabbed repeatedly and her hair has been chopped off. Ellie and Rogan quickly identify a suspect and the Department is satisfied that the case has been solved. The more Ellie looks at the case, however, the more she doubts that they have the right suspect. She begins following up on similar cases that her last partner was working on that happened decades ago. With the assistance of her partner and ADA Max Donovan, Ellie is trying to race the clock to put the pieces together before this psychopath claims another victim.

This story was very complex and it was impossible for me to figure out who the killer was. When Ellie figures it out, my reaction was “Huh? Where did she come up with that?” I had not even come up with a near guess, but that’s really OK. I don’t want to be the one to have to figure it out. It takes all of the enjoyment of the story away from me. I enjoy not knowing and being surprised and even shocked when it is revealed. Even better, the adrenaline doesn’t stop with the big reveal. The story kicks into high gear as the stakes have gone up once Ellie knows. I give Ms. Burke a double high five for ripping the rug out from under me.

My Final Verdict: Overall, this was a very good story that I am glad I stuck with. This book will appeal to fans of J.D. Robb’s Eve Dallas series or James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series. If you enjoy strong female protagonists who are not afraid to get their hands dirty and have guts and courage, I recommend this series. I am looking forward to the next book in the series to see what Ellie gets into next and who she gets into it with.

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I am not a professional reviewer, but I love to read and share my opinions on my reading with others who are interested. I work full time but my ideal perfect day would be to curl up with a good book. The majority of the books I review here are from my private collection and my reviews are provided purely for entertainment purposes. I receive no compensation whatsoever for sharing my thoughts and review on any book. If you would like me to review your book, please email me at Happy Reading! :o)