Category Archives: Alafair Burke

Two New Books

I’ll have two new books in stores before you know it.

THE WIFE, out January 23 in the US, is about a wife torn between defending her husband and saving herself after two women level troubling accusations against her husband.  As you read, you might be reminded of other wives thrown under the harsh glare of a spotlight because of their husband’s scandals, but Angela Powell has an especially powerful motive to protect her husband, Jason, a brilliant economist and cultural lightning rod.  For Angela, marriage was a chance to start a new life.  Her loyalty threatens to unearth a tragic past that she has tried desperately to bury.

In the meantime, EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE, the fourth book in the Under Suspicion series, will be out November 7.  Sharing this series with Queen of Suspense Mary Higgins Clark has been an honor and a blast as a writer, and this book is especially close to my heart.  Laurie Moran and her Under Suspicion team are investigating the unsolved Met Gala murder—in which a wealthy widow was pushed to her death from Met’s rooftop during its star-studded party of the year.  As some of you know, my husband works at the Met, so you might find a fun Easter egg or two waiting on the pages.

I hope you’ll allow both Angela and Laurie to keep you company this fall and winter.  You can learn more about the books, and pre-order, here (The Wife) and here (Every Breath You Take).

THE EX is an Edgar Award Nominee for Best Novel

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I am beyond thrilled that THE EX has been nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Novel. The Edgar Award, named for Edgar Allan Poe, is awarded by The Mystery Writers of America to honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, film, and theater.  This is especially delicious news, because so many of my talented, supportive friends are also nominated this year.

Winners will be announced on April 26 at a banquet in New York City. That’s going to be quite the party!

You can see the full list of nominees here.

In other EX-related news, THE EX was also named a Best Book of 2016 by the Boston Globe and a biggest thriller of 2016 by Book Bub.

And the New England Law Review selected THE EX to serve as its centerpiece for an upcoming symposium, “The Novelization of the Criminal Justice System and its Effect on Pop Culture.” Open to public, Feb 9, 4-6 pm, 154 Stuart St, Boston, Mass.

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Finally, THE EX will be out in paperback on January 31!  Find links to order in the format of your choice here.

Whole Lot of Book News!

Thanks, everyone!!  You made THE CINDERELLA MURDER by Mary Higgins Clark and me the #4 paperback seller last week. I love the jacket art, don’t you? If you haven’t read it yet, click here for the details!

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The second book in our co-authored series, ALL DRESSED IN WHITE, will be out November 17, and features intrepid television producer Laurie Moran as she investigates the case of a missing bride.
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Finally, I’m incredibly pleased to announce that my standalone novel THE EX will be published on January 26. Olivia Randall agrees to help her ex fiance’ who has been framed for murder, but begins to suspect that she is the one being manipulated.
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Lots of news to close the summer as we head into fall. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

I Want What I Can’t Have

I want what I can’t have.

When I say that, I don’t refer to the desires most of us have for actual things or states of being that exist in reality but which we will likely never enjoy: a mansion in Maui, a loft in Tribeca, waking up in bed with James Franco.

In other words, when I say I want what I can’t have, I don’t mean it the same way Morrisey meant when he sang “I Want the One I Can’t Have.”  (Yes, that was just an excuse to include a Smiths video in this post.)

With all due respect, Morrisey, the more precise language to describe that state of desire would be, “I want what I am highly unlikely to have in the foreseeable future.”  No.  When I say that I want what I can’t have, what I mean is that I want what I literally cannot have.  And by literally, I mean literally, not figuratively, the way people nowadays inexplicably (and literally) say things such as, “My head literally exploded.”

Here’s what I mean: Yes, I want that beach house in Maui, and I want that loft in Tribeca.  I’m not likely to have either one in the foreseeable future, but my real problem is that I want them at the same time.  I want to wake up to the sounds of waves crashing on the beach outside my window, then step outside onto cobblestone streets to eat pasta cooked by some employee of Robert DeNiro.  I want to take a surfing lesson in my backyard then walk down the street for dinner at Nobu.

And, yep, I got a mad crush on James Franco.  I sort of like the idea of being Mrs. James Franco.  (Oh, who are we kidding?  He’d be Mr. Alafair Burke, but whatevs.)  Now, am I likely ever to meet James Franco?  No.  Would he love me if he met me?  Well, yeah, of course, but he might not want to marry me.  All of those considerations are irrelevant, however, because I want to be married to my husband.  Forever.  Exclusively.  Indubutably.  For reals.  But, ahem, as bride to James Franco. I want what I can’t have.

As I write this, I find myself extremely sad because I am packing a suitcase.  Tomorrow morning, I will board an airplane, and I won’t come home for 14 days, 2 hours, and 11 minutes.  The husband will be joining me for the first five days on Burke-a-pa-looza, an all-Burke vacation up in Canada.  There will be golf, parental units, and nieces and nephews who think I’m the coolest aunt in the world.  I have every confidence that said vacation shall rock.

From there, I will head solo to a hotel room on the west coast, away from the humidity that ruins my summers and my hair, closer to dear friends whom I still miss everyday, and shielded from the many distractions at home that keep me from writing with the intensity I need right now.  I asked for ten days, by myself, in a hotel room, so I could finish my next book before classes start.

I got what I asked for.

But now I’m sad.

Why?  Because fourteen days away from home means fourteen mornings when I won’t wake up to find this face licking mine:

It means fourteen days when I won’t have lunch at my office away from home:

Notice the name of the guest on the check. I’m a regular!

It means fourteen days without my gym, my park, my croissant place, or that amazing collection of health and beauty aids crammed into my medicine cabinet.

It means ten days without my husband.

The thing I want that I can’t have is all the comforts of home, all the familiar rhythms of family, the constant companionship of my closest friends, and all the time and solitude I need to write the best possible book I can.

In this case, I really can’t get what I want.

I just might, however, find I get what I need: a few days with my family, a few dinners with my west coast friends, a hell of a lot of writing time, and a very happy husband and Duffer waiting to greet me and my completed manuscript at home.  Wish me luck!  (I may be a bit quiet while I’m bunkered down.)

So what are the things you want that you CAN’T have?

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Chat with me live on Monday!

The 212 tour will include not only physical stops to bookstores across the country, but also online events. Please join me for my FIRST live web stream this Monday, March 22, from 9:00-9:30 PM EST.  Thanks to a website called Ustream, my bulbous noggin will be filling computer screens worldwide, allowing me to answer your questions live, no matter where you live.

I hope to “see” many of you there.  Please mark your calendars!  All you have to do is open this link on your computer this Monday at 9 PM EST/ 6 PM PT.  Ustream allows viewers to type their comments and questions live during the program, Ustream allows viewers to type their comments and questions live during the program, but if you have questions you want me to answer, please post them here, and I’ll answer them live during our chat on Monday.

This will be the first time I’ve tried ustream, and hopefully it won’t be the last.  If we pull off a fun event, I’ll feel very modern and web-savvy.  And, well, if no one shows, I’ll officially be one of those sad lonely internet people talking to herself in front of a webcam.

Chance to Win a Free Copy of 212!

Over at the Rap Sheet, I’ve written six truths and one lie about myself. One of the seven “facts”: I once went to the gym during a trial recess, had my blouse stolen from the locker room, and returned in front of the same jury, minus the shirt I’d been wearing under my suit that morning.

Truth or fiction?

Guess which one of the statements is the lie and be entered in a raffle for a free copy of 212. Today’s the deadline to enter. Details here.

Author Bios: What’s Missing from the Back Inside Flap?

I promise this next sentence is an honest intro to today’s post, not just BSP: This weekend I officially joined the board of directors of Mystery Writers of America and became President of the New York chapter. (Pause for applause.)

In preparation for the annual MWA board funfest (aka orientation day), the unparalleled Margery Flax requested a biography to distribute to fellow board members. I sent her the usual jacket copy:

A formal deputy district attorney in Portland, Oregon, Alafair Burke now teaches criminal law at Hofstra Law School and lives in New York City. A graduate of Stanford Law School, she is the author of the Samantha Kincaid series, which includes the novels Judgment Calls, Missing Justice, and Close Case. Most recently, she published Angel’s Tip, her second thriller featuring Ellie Hatcher.

Her response was polite, quick, and resoundingly clear, something like, “Are you sure that’s all you want to include? This is usually a longer fun one, only for internal board distribution.”

In other words, Yawn, Snore, Zzzz….

I can take a hint, so I gave it another try. Borrowing in part from my website, I allowed myself thirty minutes to hammer out something that would give those who hadn’t met me yet some sense of who I am and where I’ve been. Margery’s assurance that this was purely internal was freeing.

After I submitted my specially-designated “MWA board bio,” I couldn’t stop thinking about the sterileness of those book jacket author bios, scrubbed clean of all personality. As writers, we’re committed to exploring the human stories that lurk beneath the superficial, but when asked to describe ourselves: Yawn, snore, zzzz…..

I’ve spoken a few times during author appearances about a hypothetical world in which books (like the law school exams I grade as a professor) would be published anonymously, their authors known only by a randomly assigned number that readers could use to “identify” the authors they consistently enjoyed. After all, what separates reading from television and film is the active role of our mind’s eye. To read books without knowing an author’s age, gender, race, religion, region, education, attractiveness, or work experience might truly unleash our imaginations.

Despite my musings about a utopia of anonymous publishing, I’ve come to realize why publishers emphasize (and readers desire) personal information about authors. The most delightful unexpected benefit of writing has been meeting some of my favorite authors. I already read these folks religiously before I met them, but I’ll admit that I read them differently — and more richly — now. I recognize the wry winks in Laura Lippman’s most leisurely paragraphs. I hear Michael Connelly’s quiet voice in Bosch. I think I really know what Lisa Unger means when she writes on Ridley Jones’s behalf that she’s a “dork.” And those short, little, maddeningly frustrating sentences from Lee Child are now sexy as hell.

But I didn’t get any of that from the book jackets.

As the traditional print media and personal appearance opportunities for authors to introduce themselves to readers continue to dry up, many of us have taken to the Web. We do that not only to get our names out there, but also because we recognize that readers are more likely to experience our written work as intended if they come to it with a sense of who we are. (For example, an online reviewer once dissed a line of Ellie Hatcher’s, something like “kicking it old school.” The fact that it’s corny to talk that way is of course precisely why she’d say such a thing. And if the reader “got” Ellie or anything about my work, he’d know that’s — ahem — just how we roll.)

So as we’re knocking ourselves out to convey our souls to readers, maybe we should take another look at book jacket bios. The publishers are going to type something beneath that favorite photo: It may as well be interesting. And so, even though Margery promised to keep this unsanitized bio a secret, I’ve decided to blast it out to the world:

Alafair Burke is the author of six novels in two series, one featuring NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher, the other with Portland prosecutor Samantha Kincaid. Although reviewers have described both characters as “feisty,” Alafair might accidentally spill a drink on anyone who invokes that word to describe her or anyone she cares about.

Alafair grew up in Wichita, Kansas, whose greatest contribution to her childhood was a serial killer called BTK. Nothing warps a young mind quite like daily reports involving the word, bind, torture, and kill.

From Kansas, Alafair dreamed of fleeing west. Fearing their daughter might fall prey to a 1980’s version of the Manson Family (um, Nelson?), her parents prohibited her from attending school in California. Ironically, she ended up at Reed College, where the bookstore sold shirts that read “Atheism, Communism, Free Love,” and Alafair found herself (lovingly) nicknamed Nancy Reagan and The Cheerleader.

From Reed, Alafair went to the decidedly less hippy-ish Stanford Law School. Although she went with dreams of becoming an entertainment lawyer so she could make deals at the Palm and score seats at the Oscars, she eventually realized she had watched “The Player” one too many times, and instead decided to pursue criminal law because she was obsessed with the Unabomber.

Most of Alafair’s legal practice was as a prosecutor in Portland, Oregon, where she infamously managed to tally up a net loss on prison time imposed during her prosecutorial career. (Help spring two exonerated people from prison to put a guy called the Happy Face Killer behind bars, and it really ruins your numbers.) As hard as it is for her to believe, she is now a professor at Hofstra Law School.

When Alafair is not teaching classes or writing, she enjoys rotting her brain. She runs to an iPod playlist with three continuous hours of spaz music (think “It Takes Two” by DJ Rob Bass, “Smooth Criminal” by Alien Art Farm, and “Planet Claire” by the B-52’s). She insists that Duran Duran, the Psychedelic Furs, and the Cure hold up just as well as the so-called classics. She watches way too much television, usually on cable. She wants Tina Fey to be her BFF. She likes to drink wine and cook.

She discloses TMI on the Interwebs, blogging regularly at Murderati and logging teenage-territory hours on Facebook. She will golf at the drop of a hat even though she’s bad at it.

Most importantly, Alafair loves her husband, Sean, and their French bulldog, The Duffer. She also loves her parents, but if you ask her about them, she’ll ask you about yours.


What do you think? Should all authors let loose on their jacket flaps? Would it affect that crucial decision of whether to purchase? Would it change how we read? If you’re a writer, what should your author bio REALLY say? And if you’re a reader, what would you like to know about some of your favorite writers?

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