Ellie Hatcher is back with a vengeance. A vengeance that lands her butt squarely in jail. Smart, independent Ellie Hatcher proves to the world everyday that she's far more than a pretty face. She can "bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan." She juggles her job, her older brother Jess, Assistant District Attorney Max Donovan, even her mother back in Wichita. And while she may not be as hip as her brother would like, she still manages to do it all with panache.
Burke's work is the epitome of art imitating life. Her plot lines are "ripped from the headlines;" the characters and dialogue are infused with pop culture; and she brings to life the New York City she so loves. 212 has no shortage of Burke's signature wit, which often comes out in her crisp, commanding dialogue. Ellie's exchanges with both her brother Jess and her partner J.J. could walk off the pages they are so believable. Burke's strengths are numerous, but her dialogue is quite possibly my favorite. Conversation is clear, it's sharp, it's witty. When a reader believes the dialogue, he/she believes the characters delivering it. For my money, no one does this better than Alafair Burke.
The complexity of 212's plot is carefully balanced. Burke peals back layer after layer, creating numerous unexpected twists throughout the book. But the twists never go over the top, nor do they become too numerous for belief. Instead the keep the reader gripped to the pages. I tried to slowly savor this book, but the plot simply wouldn't let me.
In addition, the plot of 212, like each of Burke's previous novels, reflects current events. But more than that, it examines some hefty "why" questions that are floating around these current events as well. And whenever Burke addresses a "why" question in her writing, she illustrates that the answer to that question is never a basic one, like so many people want to make it out to be. Afterall, it's humanity she's addressing, and humanity is certainly never basic. In 212, Burke takes a 348 page back swing allowing her to masterfully stroke her theme straight down the fairway and sink a hole-in-one on the final page. It's a monumental ending, one that won't quickly leave your thoughts.
I waited over a year for Ellie Hatcher to return to action, and 212 was worth every minute of that wait.