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Long Gone    by Alafair Burke order for
Long Gone
by Alafair Burke
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Alafair Burke introduces a new protagonist, Alice Humphrey, in her latest thriller, Long Gone. Like the author, Alice has a celebrity father, though in her case, dad's not a writer but a renowned filmmaker. They have been estranged since the media outed his numerous affairs. Alice is close to her mother and her brother Ben, who seems to be over his earlier problems with drug addiction.

Determined to make it on her own, thirty-seven year old Alice (an art major) was laid off by the Met eight months before and has 'started to see herself as a loser.' When she meets entrepeneur Drew Campbell at an art gallery, it seems almost too good to be true - he offers her the opportunity to manage a small gallery in Manhattan's Meatpacking District for a wealthy, older man. The client wants the gallery's first showing to feature his young consort's rather sleazy work.

Though her friend Lily warns Alice against taking the offer, she jumps in with both feet - and lives to regret it. First, protestors surround the gallery - Pastor George Hardy of the Redemption of Christ Church claims the rather questionable art is child pornography. Then the art disappears and is replaced by a corpse. And very soon, Alice is on the run, suspected of murder - can she discover what's behind it all before she's locked up?

Other key players include Alice's ex-fiancÚ (now close friend) Jeff Wilkerson, a lawyer 'who still had that Indiana goodness'; her true friend Lily Harper, who looks out for her and warns her when she's about to be arrested; FBI agent, Hank Beckman, who stalks the man he believes responsible for his sister's death; Alice's mysterious look-alike, photographed kissing Drew Campbell; and the Humphrey's family lawyer, Arthur Cronin. But which of them can be trusted?

In parallel with the disturbing events in Alice's life, readers follow the case of the disappearance of a young girl. Teen loner Becca Stevenson had two secrets and 'both made her feel special in ways she'd never known before.' Now, Becca has gone missing and her mother is desperate - is she still alive? If so, where is she? And what does Becca's situation have to do with the mess into which Alice's life has devolved?

Of course, Burke reveals all to both her heroine and readers by the end of the book, and it's a convoluted mystery with roots deep in Alice's past. When it all comes out, it changes her life forever. Overall, Long Gone is a gripping thriller and Alafair Burke's plotting only gets better - don't miss it.

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