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Angel's Tip    by Alafair Burke order for
Angel's Tip
by Alafair Burke
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Angel's Tip follows Dead Connection as the second in a series starring NYPD detective Ellie Hatcher (Alafair Burke also writes a legal thriller series starring Deputy DA Samantha Kincaid in Portland, Oregon). In the first book, Ellie broke a case whose victims were clients of an Internet dating service. Her partner, detective Flann McIlroy, died. Ellie garnered unwelcome media attention, but also formed a romantic relationship with Daily Post crime reporter Peter Morse.

As Angel's Tip opens, Ellie has a new partner, the much more experienced J. J. Rogan. She calls him immediately after stumbling upon the corpse of Indiana college freshman Chelsea Hart while on a morning jog in East River Park with her night owl brother Jess (who's a member of an obscure rock band called Dog Park). It turns out that Chelsea, somewhat of a wild child, was on a last spring break night out with two girlfriends at the Pulse nightclub in the Meatpacking district. When the others headed back to their hotel to catch a few hours sleep before their flight home, Chelsea stayed on for a last few hours of fun - that turned out to be her last hours of life.

The detectives discover that Chelsea was partying with investment banker Jake Meyers, build a case against him, and arrest him. In the process, Ellie works with - and is intrigued by - handsome ADA Max Donovan, who asks her out. Complicating the case are leaks to the media and Ellie's knotty relationship with her boss, Lieutenant Dan Eckels, who suspects her of said leaks. He's also not a happy camper when Ellie uncovers links to past murders, all involving a blonde hair fetish on the part of the murderer- Eckels does not buy her serial killer theory. As the plot escalates through new deaths, a confession and a kidnapping, Ellie realizes that she will have to put her own life on the line to bring down the Barber of Manhattan.

I enjoyed Angel's Tip even more than Dead Connection especially since - something that happens rarely - the identity of the villain caught me off guard. Ellie now has interesting, often conflicted, relationships with her partner and her boss, is involved in a romantic triangle, and has a brother who frequents the seedier side of NY City - all the elements the author needs to deliver further exciting episodes in this promising series.

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