Review of Alafair Burke's ANGEL'S TIP book launch
A few days ago, the Killer Year folks received a request to review Alafair Burke's new Elle Hatcher novel, ANGEL'S TIP. Since we don't post reviews on the Killer Year blog, we politely declined. I went to Alafair's launch event last night at the Tribeca Barnes & Noble, and I figured if we couldn't review her book, I should at least review her signing. So here we go:
I arrived at the store at about 6:40 and walked around for a few minutes, soon bumping into fellow crime writer and forensic pathologist Jonathan Hayes. Jonathan was kind enough to offer some help with forensic research for my next Henry Parker novel. I first met him at ThrillerFest. He's an exceedingly nice guy, so Alafair already gets points for her good taste in fans.
We eventually wandered over to the signing area, which was slowly filling up to max capacity. I met Alafair's publicist, saw her agent and a few other publishing folks and authors, and by the time the event started the signing area was standing room only. Points for Alafair's drawing power. Points subtracted because I stupidly finished my iced coffee before the event started and I was thirsty.
After a brief intro by the bookseller, Alafair came onstage accompanied by Lee Child. In an interesting twist, rather than conducting a traditional reading, Lee agreed to interview Alafair about her books. Alafair wore a black blouse (was it a blouse? I'm not good with fashion) and Lee wore a cool Vic Mackey-esque black leather jacket. Points subtracted because they both wore the same color. I think that's some sort of fashion faux pas.
Lee began the interview by asking Alafair about her career, and why she chose to switch protagonists (from Samantha Kincaid to Elle Hatcher). Alafair offered good answers, discussing how she reached a crossroads at a certain point in the fourth Kincaid novel which led her to go in a different direction, and went into detail about how her two lead characters differed. Said Alafair, "I didn't want Elle to just be a blond Samantha." Points for her ability to create two distinctly different lead characters in two very different settings (New York and Portland). Points subtracted because Samantha Kincaid isn't good at taking care of her dog.
They also discussed a scene in a recent Reacher novel where Jack meets a prosecutor named Samantha in Portland (hint hint) and has a few nights of romance (wa wa wee wa) with her. Points because the perpetually broke Reacher paid for the pizza.
Alafair discussed why her law background made it a necessity to get all the details right in her books, and how personal experience aided in the writing of the first Hatcher novel, DEAD CONNECTION. Points for her candidness. Points subtracted because, despite what Alafair said, no husband is ever difficult. Cough.
After Lee finished with his grilling, they took questions from the crowd. Alafair pointed out a bunch of her former students (she's a tenured law professor) in the audience. She also discussed the difficulty of being Professor Burke in the classroom, and Alafair Burke the author in public. Points because I went through a similar thing while juggling editing and writing. Points subtracted because she undoubtedly handled it better than I did.
Once the Q&A was finished, Alafair and Lee signed copies of their books. Points subtracted because each row was called up individually, like we were boarding an airplane. Points added because Alafair signed my book with a funny inscription.
Final Grade: Lee Child was an engaging and witty interviewer, and Alafair's answers were always interesting and provocative. This was a nice change of pace from the traditional reading/signing, and it made me want to read ANGEL'S TIP. So my final grade for Alafair's event is an A.