cover image Never Tell

Never Tell

Alafair Burke. Harper, $24.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-199916-1

Near the start of Burke’s excellent fourth novel of suspense featuring NYPD Det. Ellie Hatcher (after 2010’s 212), 16-year-old Julia Whitmire, the daughter of legendary music producer Bill Whitmire, is found dead in the bathtub on the top floor of her family’s West Village townhouse with her wrists slashed. Ellie assumes that the Whitmire parents’ social clout is the reason why she and her partner, J.J. Rogan, must investigate an apparent suicide as a potential murder. At Casden, Julia’s elite prep school, they discover a rampant subculture of prescription drug abuse and intense academic pressure. Julia’s friend, Ramona Langston, also points them in the direction of several homeless youths she and Julia befriended over the past year, particularly Casey Heinz, who has a crush on Ramona and keys to the Whitmires’ residence. Ellie becomes less convinced that Julia killed herself as details emerge of a rape survivor blog linked to the case and threats against its anonymous author. The meticulous plotting, coupled with Ellie’s complicated evolution as a heroine, make this Burke’s strongest work to date. 6-city author tour. Agent: Philip Spitzer, the Philip Spitzer Literary Agency. (June)