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Angel's Tip
Angel's Tip
by Alafair Burke

An intriguing new voice in a police procedural thriller
While jogging with her brother Jess, NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher runs into a homicide scene. A young Indiana college student Chelsea Hart has been murdered, her face carved and her hair chopped off. New to the homicide division and eager to actually work on a case, Ellie and her partner Rogan claim the case. At first, the clues seem obvious enough. Chelsea had been out having a wild time at one of Manhattan's hot clubs, dancing and drinking with a hedge fund manager, the last person to see her alive. An unexpected telephone call on the tip hot line about a mysterious dream from the father of a cold case victim leads Ellie to investigate the unsolved cases whose trail ran dead many years ago. As Ellie begins to question the too tight case against Jake Myers, new clues begin to surface, clues that put her at odds with the police department hierarchy and in the focus of a psychopathic killer.

Alafair Burke's ANGEL'S TIP peers into the faceless anonymity of Manhattan's night life scene, giving voice to the victim, family and friends of an altogether too frequently seen and ignored case of a wild night on the town gone bad. Cleverly embedded clues leave the reader with a vast array of possible suspects even while the police department itself narrows its focus. Several twists and turns will keep readers guessing until the final shocking revelation and action-packed conclusion. Although the final lead-up to ending feels slightly rushed, the final clues and hunt were certainly an exciting ride to the finish. ANGEL'S TIP might benefit for more psychological insight into the killer's motives, thus giving the ending more satisfaction beyond just the shocking revelation of the culprit, but then again, the absence of such fictional stereotypes makes ANGEL'S TIP intriguing in that this case is solved by an unusual convergence of clues and circumstances rather than the often overworked psychological profiles that have become almost stereotypical in the genre. In comparison, Alafair Burke's Elie Hatcher has a lighter, more skillful touch, a voice that intrigues precisely because of her more subtle approach.

Alafair Burke's second book in the Ellie Hatcher series gives readers a refreshingly new police detective whose personal life adds a richness beyond the case itself without overpowering the hunt for the killer or Ellie herself. Ellie Hatcher is clever, smart, independent but she is a woman whose personal life and thoughts give her both a vulnerability and unique perspective. Detective Hatcher's thoughts and actions to the families as well as her thoughts on police work add a rich dimension to this case that hopefully will continue to develop as Alafair Burke develops this series. Never heavy-handed, these reflections emerge from the moments in the stories as she interacts with other characters. Her growing partnership with Rogan stands out against the internal politics within the police force and the department's struggle with the media in this high profile case, adding a nice flavor, once again in just the right measure, giving depth to her characterization without detracting from the exciting roller coaster hunt for the culprit. ANGEL'S TIP is an excellent addition to the new Ellie Hatcher series, a promising series with an intriguing set of characters whose future stories and lives I eagerly await.

Publisher: Harper (August 2008)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
Review Courtesy of Amazon Vine
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