Dead Connection

deadconnection In this electrifying thriller, a rookie detective goes undercover on the Internet dating scene to draw out a serial killer targeting single women in Manhattan

When two young women are murdered on the streets of New York, exactly one year apart, Detective Ellie Hatcher is called up for a special assignment on the homicide task force. The killer has left behind a clue connecting the two cases to First Date, a popular online dating service, and Flann McIlroy, an eccentric, publicity-seeking homicide detective, is convinced that only Ellie can help him pursue his terrifying theory: someone is using the lure of the Internet and the promise of love to launch a killing spree against the women of New York City.

UK cover

UK cover

To catch the killer, Ellie must enter a high-tech world of stolen identities where no one is who they appear to be. And for her, the investigation quickly becomes personal: she fits the profile of the victims, and she knows firsthand what pursuing a sociopath can do to a cop — back home in Wichita, Kansas, her father lost his life trying to catch a notorious serial murderer.

When the First Date killer begins to mimic the monster who destroyed her father, Ellie knows the game has become personal for him, too. Both hunter and prey, she must find the killer before he claims his next victim — who could very well be her.

Expertly plotted and perfectly paced, Dead Connection advances Alafair Burke to the front ranks of American thriller writers.

Critical Praise for Dead Connection

“Novice NYPD Det. Ellie Hatcher worked low-level robberies until she was whisked to the homicide division and plunged neck-deep into a series of killings in this addictive thriller. Kansas native Ellie becomes a cop after following trouble-prone brother Jess to the Big Apple. The daughter of a slain police officer, Ellie remains haunted by his death and his department’s refusal to classify it as a homicide at the hands of a serial killer he was investigating. Soon she’s picked to partner on a murder case with Det. Flann McIlroy, known for his maverick techniques. McIlroy is after the killer of Louisiana transplant Amy Davis. McIlroy believes Amy’s killer has struck before and will do so again. Amy was brutally strangled outside her apartment, and her pocket carries a clue placed by the killer — one that leads investigators to an Internet dating service called FirstDate. They soon determine Amy isn’t the only murder victim with a FirstDate connection. Beautiful writer Caroline Hunter, killed exactly one year before Amy, joined FirstDate to research a book on online romances. Ellie and Flann must dig deep into the past lives of four dead women, and in doing so, they attract the attention of the FBI. But the federal agency seems curiously bent on blocking their murder probe, especially Agent Charlie Dixon and his supervisor. Forbidden love, a retired cop, Russian gangsters and secrets from the victims’ pasts converge in Burke’s intricately-plotted, fast-paced fourth (Close Case, 2005, etc.). The attractive Ellie makes for a flawed but likeable heroine-smart, good with details, but ultimately capable of an error with devastating consequences. Holds the reader’s attention from first word to last, and begs for a sequel.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Burke (criminal law, Hofstra Law Sch.) takes a break from her terrific Samantha Kincaid legal thriller series (Close Case) with this novel of Internet dating, murder, and high-tech mayhem. Young New York City Police Det. Ellie Hatcher is temporarily reassigned from the robbery division to assist maverick homicide Det. Flann McIlroy. McIlroy is trying to tie together the murders of two young single women and wants input from someone who can relate. An email found on the body of the second victim is traced to an online dating service called After determining that both women were members, the detectives approach the online dating service about the men who had contacted the victims. But FirstDate is not especially forthcoming, and anonymous men make difficult suspects. Hatcher and McIlroy dig deeper, but more bodies start piling up, forcing them to widen their chase. (Along the way, they end up in New Iberia, LA, in a lovely homage to the author’s father, crime writer James Lee Burke.) This stunning thriller ends with a tantalizing glimpse into what is sure to be a highly anticipated sequel (the publisher calls it a standalone). Highly recommended for all public libraries.”
Library Journal

“Alafair Burke is the author of the wonderful Samantha Kincaid series, and her stand-alone debut is every bit as good as the books that preceded it. Dead Connection deals with the problem of identity theft, this time in the world of internet dating. Two young women are murdered in Manhattan, exactly one year apart, both after dates arranged via a website. Rookie detective Ellie Hatcher is assigned to work on the homicide task force, where her new boss, Flann McIlroy, is known for his unorthodox methods. He’s also an avid publicity hound, and Hatcher’s background — her policeman father died in mysterious circumstances after pursuing a notorious serial killer — makes her perfect for his purposes. Hatcher deliberately exposes herself as “date-bait” in a search that becomes increasingly desperate as the murderer steps up the pace. Intelligent, emotionally literate and unusually — given the dark subject-matter — funny, with strong characters and tight plotting, Dead Connection is a riveting read.”
The Guardian

“. . . this is an enjoyable new character. I hope to see more of Ellie in the future.”
Deadly Pleasures

Dead Connection makes us want more stories about Ellie. With two strong female leads, Burke could have two powerhouse series.”
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“Readers won’t need to be lured into the story — it’s gripping from the very first page.”
The Romantic Times

“Thirtysomethings will love the new face Alafair Burke has given the mystery genre.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“. . . a solid, workmanlike effort, with a nice tangle of leads and official stonewalling.”
Houston Chronicle

“Alafair Burke delivers a first-rate thriller, as a rookie detective investigates the dark side of internet dating while trying to survive the mean streets of New York. Absolutely riveting.”
—Lisa Gardner, author of Gone

“Alafair Burke proves her flair for creating compelling characters and a tricky plot in Dead Connection. Fans of detective fiction will enjoy young, complicated Ellie Hatcher as she willingly, frighteningly, plays victim, hoping to trap a killer.”
—Perri O’Shaughnessy, author of Keeper of the Keys

“These are characters I’d follow forever! Dead Connection is a sleek and utterly riveting thriller that deserves every accolade it is sure to get.”
—Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of The Mephisto Club

“Engaging characters, dark subject matter, and a compelling story. A suspenseful and entertaining read.”
—Kathy Reichs, New York Times bestselling author of Break No Bones

“Don’t let the dopey title turn you off of this otherwise satisfying mystery. A serial killer, whom Burke shrewdly keeps cloaked in the shadows until the near end, is picking off women he stalks on a popular Internet dating site. Young New York City detective Ellie Hatcher, herself haunted by a serial killer from her past, fits the physical description of her perp’s growing list of victims. The supporting characters, from Hatcher’s genial mooch of a brother to a retired hack investigator, are all deftly drawn. Burke, the daughter of Cajun thriller maestro James Lee, is a terrific web spinner. She knows when and how to drop clues to keep readers at her mercy. A-”
Entertainment Weekly

“Pure, heart-pounding escapism . . . Burke taps into a cultural hot-button issue: the increasing popularity of online dating sites and the very real possibility that the person you are connecting with is lying about who he/she is.”
USA Today, in a Top 5 summer thriller pick

“A great, topical, complex plot. Terrific writing, a great ending and a cast of characters to carry the whole thing off.”
Material Witness

“I do have to give major props to the author for a well-crafted mystery. I really liked the construction of this one and how the whole plot worked out. I thought it was very clever. Four stars from me.”
Speed Reading Book Nerd Reviews

“Burke sets the best features of the standard detective murder mystery within the relatively new world of the Internet and that helps make her fourth novel a first rate mystery.”

“This book is an exciting thrill ride from the very first page right up to the last. Normally, I am very good at guessing who the killer is about half way through a book, but Ms. Burke did a fantastic job with twists and turns no one can see coming. I recommend this book to every reader; I truly believe no one will be disappointed. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Burke’s astounding and thrilling prose.”
Roundtable Reviews

“Burke’s expert plotting, subtle, intelligent humor, and insider knowledge of the criminal justice system keeps this novel firmly on the rails and guarantees excitement at every turn of a page.”
Perfect Text

“I can’t say enough about how much this book was so good . . . Now I want to go back and her other series.”
Lover of Books

“I really enjoyed this story. Towards the end I didn’t want to put the book down because I wanted to know how it would end. I thought the twists and turns were really good.”
Not Enough Books

“Burke takes a break from her legal series to offer up a tale of electrifying suspense that features such a compelling and laudable new heroine that dedicated fans of old might feel a bit guilty about when demanding an encore. Ellie, just a little more jaded and a little rougher around the edges than Burke’s other wonderfully drawn heroine Samantha Kincaid, adds some bite and urgency to this highly readable plot, both of which combine seamlessly to propel the reader forward at a rapid fire pace.”
New Mystery Reader

“Alafair Burke touches a very serious subject in this current mystery – internet stalkers and the safety of the net. She does a very credible job in Dead Connection. The possibility of internet stalkers makes the murders all the more real and intertwining the previous murder complicates the possibilities but makes for an interesting read.”
Front Street Reviews

“A great mystery!”
The Loud Librarian

“Author Alafair Burke, a former deputy district attorney, methodically captivates you through this thriller, making it difficult to put down.”
Nights and Weekends

“Burke displays smooth and elegant pacing in Dead Connection, guiding characters and readers alike through a tangled skein of multiple crimes in realistic fits and starts.”
Curled Up with a Good Book

Dead Connection is a stand-alone mystery, featuring a likable heroine. It gets three stars out of five . . .”

Dead Connection is an entertaining read, with an appealing protagonist, quirky supporting characters, the requisite twisted villain, and plenty of complications.”

Dead Connection is as intense as it is intriguing and you’ll never view a chatroom in the same way again.”
TCM Reviews