Title: Never Tell: A Novel of Suspense by Alafair Burke
Ellie Hatcher Series, Book Three
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through Edelweiss
Sixteen-year-old Julia Whitmire appeared to have everything: a famous father, a luxurious Manhattan townhouse, a coveted spot at the elite Casden prep school. When she is found dead in her bathtub, a handwritten suicide note left on her bed, her parents insists that their daughter would never take her own life.
But Julia’s enviable life was more complicated than it seemed. The pressure to excel at Casden was enormous. Abuse of prescription anti-depressants and drugs for attention-deficit hyperactivity ran rampant among students; an unlabeled bottle of pills in Julia’s purse suggests she had succumbed to the trend. And a search of Julia’s computer reveals that in the days leading up to her death, she was engaged in a dangerous game of cyberbullying against an unlikely victim.
NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher is convinced the case is a suicide, but she knows from personal experience that a loving family can be the last to accept the truth. When the Whitmires use their power to force a criminal investigation, Ellie’s resistance causes trouble for her both at work and in her personal life.
As she is pressured to pursue a case she doesn’t believe in, she is pulled into Julia’s inner circle-an eclectic mix of overly precocious teenagers from Manhattan’s most privileged families as well as street kids she met in Greenwich Village. But when the target of Julia’s harassment continues to receive death threats, Ellie is forced to acknowledge that Julia may have learned the hard way that some secrets should never be told.
Never Tell by Alafair Burke is a superbly crafted and intriguing mystery that is quite suspenseful and full of secrets. NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher is quick to assume that teenage Julia Whitmire’s death is a suicide. Mounting pressure from the Whitmire family forces Ellie and her partner J.J. Rogan to look at Julia’s case a little more closely. Their discoveries take the case in many different but interconnected directions and expose secrets that are best left buried.
Ellie Hatcher is a wonderfully developed albeit slightly dysfunctional protagonist. Her past initially clouds her judgment, and she grudgingly investigates Julia’s death more thoroughly. While she is pretty good at reading people, Ellie sometimes takes people at face value instead of looking a little deeper and beneath the surface.
Ellie’s investigation reveals many puzzling and seemingly unrelated clues. What does a sexual abuse survivor’s blog have to do with Julia’s death? Who is leaving threatening posts on the survivor’s blog? Where does a pharmaceutical company’s drug trial fit in?
Never Tell is a compelling novel with many unexpected twists and turns. Red herrings and misdirects keep the identity of the killer tightly under wraps. Alafair Burke beautifully ties all of the seemingly unrelated events into a fascinating and intricately woven mystery that fans of crime novels are sure to enjoy.