Before I was lent this book I'd never heard of Alafair Burke but the person who lends me books reads the same kind of stuff I do so I thought this would be my kind of book. Alafair Burke is a former Deputy District Attorney and currently teaches criminal law so she knows her crime information.
The book begins with the murder of a student called Chelsea Hart after she has been underage drinking with her friends in New York. The body is found by Ellie Hatcher who is a detective in New York and they quickly establish who Chelsea left the club with after her friends had gone back to the hotel, and it looks like an airtight case. However Ellie finds information of three cold cases that appear very similar to this one which would mean the killer wouldn't have been old enough to committ all four crimes.
Ellie Hatcher is new to her department and has been paired up with J.J Rogan so their working partnership is very new but he supports her theory even though it doesn't make them very popular with the rest of the department. More deaths are happening even though the suspect is in custody and it becomes obvious their suspect isn't the killer but the forensics are too damning for him not to be involved at all. Can they figure out how he is involved and find the killer before he kills one of their own?
Firstly I have to say I found it difficult to get into this story because it revolved around teenagers in the beginning and I just couldn't work up any empathy for the characters. It's a long time since I was a teenager and this began by looking like it might be a teen thriller. Thankfully we moved away from the teenage angle though and it got more interesting.
I also had trouble with the partnership between Rogan and Hatcher and felt it was very contrived but if the author writes more books with the two of them working together I think this will develop and become more realistic.
The other thing I had trouble with was the amount of "red herrings" thrown in there to try and confuse us. It didn't work on me and I knew who the killer was the first time we were introduced to him even though there was no reason for me to suspect this guy so all the twists and turns and false suspects after that were wasted on me. I think the author tried to make it too complicated and it actually made the real killer stand out too much from the crowd. It's great to have several twists and turns in a thriller but if they're not believeable they just look too false and draw attention back to the person the author is trying not to implicate.
The writing style is quick and there's plenty happening throughout the book and for that I liked it. It wasn't unpredictable enough for me though and I prefer books that really take me by surprise with the conclusion which this one failed to do.
I suspect if Alafair Burke writes more books about Hatcher and Rogan they may improve and if I saw another book by this author I would at least read the back to see if it took my fancy but she isn't an author I'd go out of my way to search for.
Just the 2 stars from me for too much "smokescreen and mirrors" style writing that failed to hide anything and a very loose partnership between Rogan and Hatcher.
City Of Fear is available to buy for £5.49 from Amazon but I really recommend borrowing it if you can because I sincerely doubt you'll want to read it again.