I think I finally did it, denizens. I found a detective series that I like—with caveats, of course. Come on now, it is me who’s writing this. I come with caveats.
And before anyone points out that I have had mostly glowing things to say about J.K. Rowling’s go at sleuthing through her Robert Galbraith nom de plume, I kind of expect a great deal from Rowling as a writer because of my years of exposure to her storytelling style. The fact that I like her mystery novels, I suppose, didn’t really surprise me all that much.
The fact that I so swiftly and thoroughly fell in love with Alafair Burke’s storytelling was a completely delightful surprise to me. I’d never heard of Burke, so when I happened upon All Day and a Night in the local library’s Recently Released section, I tossed it into my stack of books as sort of a “luck of the draw” pick that sounded potentially interesting.
It wasn’t until I was well into this book that I realized it was part of a series based on the lead character, New York City Detective Ellie Hatcher. Burke does a fantastic job of telling a satisfying stand-alone story, with benign-enough mentions to the previous books in the series that I didn’t feel as though I was unable to “get” any part of the story or the characters. However, the hints and the holistically pleasing denouement of this book were enough that I immediately went to the library’s site and tracked down the rest of the series: Dead Connection, Angel’s Tip, 212, and Never Tell.
I roared through all four of the rest of the Ellie Hatcher series in less than a month. I really, really like Ellie Hatcher. I found her to be an interesting filter through which readers approach the various crimes of Burke’s series. I suppose the only major complaint I had was how brutal all the stories are to women. Sort of similar to my ultimate complaint about the primary crimes of The Fall, the recent British detective series that starred Gillian Anderson, it seems almost as if Hatcher’s cases must almost always start with female victims or inevitably include female victims, more often than not of female-specific crimes, be it stalking, sexual assault, abduction, or some really gruesome torture. She lives and works in New York City, FFS. There has got to be some violence going down against some dudes somewhere in her district.
Okay, that’s not completely fair. There are crimes that involve male victims—but they almost seem tangential to the main ring brutality against women. I understand the very real implications that it’s mostly women who become victims of the types of crimes that detective stories want to focus on. If it bleeds, it leads. Or, apparently, entertains.
I know, I’m starting to sound like I didn’t enjoy these books. I honestly did. And I’m definitely on board for reading Burke’s next case for Detective Hatcher. I’m just going to hold out hope that the next one might bear in mind that crime happens to guys, too.
Final Verdict: I actually could see myself going back and re-reading these books and looking for clues that I might have missed along the way (although I’m quite pleased with myself that I was able to suss out the perps before the big reveals…and that I’m now using words like “perps” in my regular writing). I’d also actually like to go back to All Day and a Night and see what things might make more sense to me now that I’ve read all the preceding novels. I could make room in my library for Detective Ellie Hatcher. I also might read some of Burke’s other novels.