Since I had heard such great things about this book, I started it with apprehension. Often the reviews gush over mystery novels that I find less than “a mystery.” Sorry to say that this too is an example of over-hype.
The plot starts off fine. The main character is quite appealing (a tough hard-boiled NY City criminal defense attorney with a touch of humor about herself). And the pose was easy to sweep through, if not exactly gripping.
But then…. nothing happened that you could not predict, the other characters remained cardboard at best and the ending suffered from obviousness.
The Ex gives us Olivia Randall, the quite enjoyable, tough-woman attorney, who sees that her ex-boyfriend of 20 years ago has been arrested for the murder of 3 people and of course, feels compelled to take his case. The soap opera story line about their past together was over the top with tragedy (battered mothers, abusive fathers, cancer, cheating lovers, car accidents, psychiatric hospitals, blackmailers, mass shootings). I wish I were kidding.
Allegedly the man the ex-boyfriend targeted was the father of the killer who shot his wife during a mass shooting. As Olivia investigates the crimes she begins to switch from advocating for the ex to not believing anything he says. Much of the book is about whether or not the ex is to be trusted.
I would qualify this novel as a combination chick-lit/mystery. So perhaps the over emphasis on the relationship between the ex and Olivia is more acceptable to readers who like this type of mystery. The straight mystery elements, however, suffered here. Too much coincidence. The character’s actions were often unbelievable and kept taking me out of the story. The ending has been written hundreds of times in a mystery – it no longer surprises anyone who reads mysteries, especially if it is advertised for 200 pages.
But let me add, I rather liked the book! Seriously, it was a quick and good read if you want something light and don’t have the energy to focus. The author, Alafair Burke, is a former prosecutor turned criminal law professor who has written 10 previous mysteries. Plus, (BIG CLUE) she has co-authored two other “mysteries” with Mary Higgins Clark, the grande-dame of chick-lit suspense novels.
3 out of 5 stars