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Missing Justice [Paperback]

Alafair Burke
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 18 2004
In the second entry in this exciting new series, the search for a missing judge leads Samantha Kincaid into Portland politics and a labyrinth of crime, corruption and cover-ups. Deputy DA Samantha Kincaid is back to work after an attempt on her life and a promotion into the Major Crimes Unit. When the husband of Portland City Judge Clarissa Easterbrook reports her missing and Samantha is called out on the case, she assumes her only job is to make the District Attorney look good until the judge reappears none the worse. When the police discover evidence of foul play, however, Samantha finds herself unearthing secrets that Clarissa wanted to stay hidden, the lingering personal tolls of a crime that occurred decades ago, and corruption at the highest levels of the city's power structure. Her quest for justice could cost her not only her job, but her life. In the skilfully plotted, highly suspenseful follow-up to her acclaimed debut, JUDGMENT CALLS, Alafair Burke once again demonstrates that 'she's got what it takes' (Michael Connelly).With its irreverent heroine and seamless blend of squad rooms, streets and the courtroom, MISSING JUSTICE confirms Burke's place among the genre's most talented newcomers.

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From Publishers Weekly

In Burke's lively second Samantha Kincaid mystery (after 2003's Judgment Calls), the Deputy District Attorney has just joined the Major Crimes Unit in Portland, Ore., when a local judge, Clarissa Easterbrook, goes missing and is then found murdered. As Kincaid sifts through possible suspects, she also adjusts to the personalities in her new office, including her surprisingly friendly supervisor. Evidence of the judge's affair with a politician and an increasingly confusing crush of contracts, judgments and financial papers make it difficult to believe that Kincaid would seriously consider Melvin Jackson, a poor black man, as the likely murderer. A former drug addict, Jackson was in danger of losing custody of his kids in a case Easterbrook was considering just before her death. Eventually, Kincaid turns to a more obvious source of trouble. Kincaid is an appealing if perhaps too familiar a type—a slightly seasoned, feisty woman who runs impressive distances and confides her endearing foibles to the reader. Burke does a good job of integrating the political and personal lives of her characters, with the detectives of the Major Crimes Unit being particularly well drawn. Witty and concise dialogue helps redeem the somewhat stiff plotting.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Clarissa Easterbrook was a judge in Portland, Oregon, and the wife of a prominent surgeon--until her lifeless body was found near a construction site at the city's edge. Samantha Kincaid, new to the district attorney's Major Crimes Unit, is assigned the case. When Samantha learns that Clarissa was having an affair, suspicion centers on the spouse. Could the doctor have been inspired to perform cranial surgery with a hunk of granite? But the forensic evidence forms a circumstantial case against a former drug addict who could lose his home and possibly his kids based on a ruling by the late judge. As Samantha digs, however, it seems less likely that this was a crime of passion or anger. The second Kincaid mystery by the daughter of James Lee Burke is a very clever whodunit long on red herrings, shadowy motives, and sly humor. The author's background as a former deputy DA in Portland lends gritty ambience to this modern parable of greed and ambition. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4.0 out of 5 stars A Finely Wrought and Gripping Mystery June 26 2004
Format:Hardcover
In her second novel, the extremely talented Alafair Burke brings her heroine, Samantha (Sam) Kincaid, back as a newly promoted Deputy District Attorney. She transferred to the major crimes unit out of "the Drug and Vice Division" after she survived an attack on her life (JUDGMENT CALLS). "It took most attorneys five to seven years of good work and shameless [sucking up] to get into MCU, and [she'd] done it in less than three with [her] pride largely intact. Given [her] Stanford law degree and three years in the Southern District of New York at the nation's most prestigious U.S. Attorney's Office", she had worked hard to attain her dream job. So when Judge Clarissa Easterbrook is reported missing by her very influential husband, Dr. Townsend Easterbrook, Samantha's boss, Duncan Griffith, sends her out to their house.
This was her first case in her new unit, and while she had met some of the detectives before in passing, she was now working closely with new people. Thus she felt somewhat reassured to see two men who she had met before and had formed a bond with: Raymond Johnson and his partner, Jack Walker.
The case was just starting; at that point all they knew was that Clarissa Easterbrook, "an administrative judge ... [who] is not the kind of judge that many of us would envision, in a courthouse, presiding over trials," was reported missing. Based on their experience and smarts, the authorities ruled out nothing. These kinds of cases can turn on a dime and move quickly from a person whose whereabouts are unknown to finding that person's body on a slab in the morgue.
The following day Samantha is watching a news conference called by Dr. Easterbrook when Russell Frist, recently appointed supervisor of the MCU and her new boss, welcomes her to the unit.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sam Kincaid rocks! June 10 2004
By Sam Fan
Format:Hardcover
Based on the strong recommendation from Michael Connelly, I gave this book a try, and I'm definitely glad that I did.
Sam Kincaid is a tough Assistant DA paying her dues in the gritty world of crime and punishment in Portland, Oregon. She gets transferred to the Major Crimes Unit just in time to follow the trail of missing judge Clarissa Easterbrook. She uncovers a great deal of interesting facts along the way, which give the reader keen insight into the political and socio-economic realities of a growing city like Portland.
All the while, Sam manages to find time for a personal life made colorful by her friends, hunky boyfriend and supportive father.
The pacing of the story is great and accurately reflects the busy hum of modern life. All readers can identify with Sam Kincaid as she struggles to work hard and make a name for herself, but not become cynical and jaded. The verbal exchanges she has with co-workers (cops and lawyers) are tart and no-nonsense, reflecting the pressure of dedicating oneself to the cause of criminal justice.
Overall, I think the publishing community will be hearing alot from Ms. Burke in the near future. I liked this book so much, I just picked up her first "Judgment Calls" and can't wait to devour it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyed it June 19 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Nothing like a great mystery to make the beach tolerable with the family. Missing Justice is a wonderful addition to the Sam Kincaid series by Alafair Burke.
Ms. Kincaid is a modern woman trying to keep it all together in life, which is made more complicated by her chosen profession...prosecuting attorney in the DA's office.
My favorite aspect of the book is Ms. Kincaid's relationship with her father. I wonder how much his character is modelled after Alafair's famous (and superb author) father. Overall, the character development is very good and the dialogue helps the pages just about turn themselves.
I just wish the third installment was available, but I guess I'll have to wait.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reading Material May 23 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A real page turner and each one filled with action. Hard to put it down. Alafair Burke always has such twists and turns that keeps one guessing right to the end.

Nothing I didn't like about the book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Sequel Nov. 2 2004
By Untouchable - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Following on from her strong debut legal thriller, JUDGMENT CALLS, Alafair Burke has continued the Samantha Kincaid series with another intriguing story with MISSING JUSTICE. Samantha Kincaid is a Deputy District Attorney with the DA's office in Portland, Oregon and has just been promoted to the Major Crimes Division, the team that investigates and prosecutes homicide cases. She is thrown straight into the deep end with this case, her first after the trauma of the previous book.

The case starts out as a missing person case, made high profile because the missing person was Appeals Court judge Clarissa Easterbrook. Samantha is given the assignment of lending reassurance to Clarissa's husband. Townsend. It's not long before the missing person case turns into a murder case when Clarissa's body is found. The fact that it is a judge who has been murdered gives the case added importance and, for Samantha, added pressure. But this is the kind of case that Samantha thrives on and is eager to prove that she's up to the challenge that her new promotion has provided.

Although a suspect is charged and the legal proceedings get underway with Kincaid prosecuting, Samantha comes across evidence that casts doubt on her own case. Apart from the obvious problems involved with sabotaging her case, Samantha isn't quite sure exactly how it all ties together and so begins running her own investigation, by necessity without police help because by this stage it is officially a closed case. The progress she makes is slow and, at times confusing, and is also at the expense of a few high profile toes, arousing the interest of the DA, making for a few fiery confrontations.

This story boils down to one question: why would an Appeals Court judge be murdered? In trying to answer this question, Samantha will risk her career, her personal relationships and even her life in an effort to find out.

MISSING JUSTICE establishes the toughness and resourcefulness of Samantha Kincaid in numerous ways both large and small. From hustling down to someone's office after they've refused to take her phone calls to meet them face to face, to making plea bargain deals without consulting her boss, she's a rule-breaking breath of fresh air. Consequently, a lot of the drama is played out within the offices of the District Attorney as she settles into her new job. Her willingness to step outside the accepted boundaries normally obeyed by a Deputy District Attorney makes for a volatile workplace, but it's this characteristic that makes this book, and the ongoing series, enjoyable.

Insinuated between the time spent on the trial and the unofficial investigation is the further development of her romance with Major Crimes Unit detective Chuck Forbes, providing the romantic interlude that seems to be de rigueur for thrillers with female protagonists. It's a sub-story that serves to display Samantha's more vulnerable side. This, along with some touching moments with her father, helps to fill in her past a little more and I now feel as though I am tied to her more emotionally.

I found that as the case progressed it began to get very complex with the introduction of a lot of new names making it difficult to keep track of who was doing what to whom and how their inclusion fitted. At times I was scratching my head wondering why Samantha was getting so excited over a piece of information that seemed innocuous to me. What I'm trying to say is that it's essential to pay very close attention to the story and it's rather intricate plot.

MISSING JUSTICE is a solid sequel to JUDGMENT CALLS combining interesting and informative courtroom scenes, a strong point of Alafair Burke's, with an intricate plot and a thrilling ending. It's fast-paced thanks to the no-nonsense style of Samantha Kincaid and tempered with a sprinkling of subtle humour.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sam Kincaid rocks! June 10 2004
By Sam Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Based on the strong recommendation from Michael Connelly, I gave this book a try, and I'm definitely glad that I did.
Sam Kincaid is a tough Assistant DA paying her dues in the gritty world of crime and punishment in Portland, Oregon. She gets transferred to the Major Crimes Unit just in time to follow the trail of missing judge Clarissa Easterbrook. She uncovers a great deal of interesting facts along the way, which give the reader keen insight into the political and socio-economic realities of a growing city like Portland.
All the while, Sam manages to find time for a personal life made colorful by her friends, hunky boyfriend and supportive father.
The pacing of the story is great and accurately reflects the busy hum of modern life. All readers can identify with Sam Kincaid as she struggles to work hard and make a name for herself, but not become cynical and jaded. The verbal exchanges she has with co-workers (cops and lawyers) are tart and no-nonsense, reflecting the pressure of dedicating oneself to the cause of criminal justice.
Overall, I think the publishing community will be hearing alot from Ms. Burke in the near future. I liked this book so much, I just picked up her first "Judgment Calls" and can't wait to devour it.
1 of 0 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong sequel to Judgment Calls April 13 2007
By David W. Nicholas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It's been a month since the events at the conclusion of Judgment Calls, and Samantha Kincaid has been promoted to the Major Case Unit of the Portland Prosecutor's Office. At four in the morning, she's called by police detectives to come to a house in one of the tonier neighborhoods, to assist in the beginning of the search for an Administrative Court Judge, a woman of some substance in the local community. So starts Missing Justice, the second book in Alafair Burke's Samantha Kincaid series. It's a good book, strong for a second entry in a series.

Burke is, of course, the daughter of James Lee Burke, the author of the Dave Robichaux series. The daughter isn't anything like her father, though, really. The books here are more about the legal system than police work, and while the prose isn't as wonderfully descriptive, the plots are a bit tighter and more straightforward.

I like this second book in the younger Burke's series. The author seems to be getting a feel for how to write a book like this, how to construct the characters and plot, and how to handle a mystery. The actual villain is difficult to separate out from the rest of the bad people in the plot, and the author does a wonderful job of concealing the killer's identity until the last few pages. I enjoyed this book a lot; I would recommend it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Novel of Murder and Lies Jan. 4 2005
By FictionAddiction.NET - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Due to the recent death of the former supervisor, a domino effect of promotions has placed Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid in the Major Crimes Unit. She's just returned from a much-needed vacation following her last case with the Drug and Vice Division, which ended with a few dead bodies lying around her home.

Samantha's first case involves missing Administrative Law Judge Clarissa Easterbrook. It initially seems to be as simple as babysitting until the judge shows back up.

When the body is recovered instead, Samantha's in for more work than she bargained for. The distraught husband would normally be the key suspect, but the investigation turns the authorities elsewhere.

The evidence seems clear enough and the case appears to be open-and-shut. Samantha, however, gets some information that doesn't quite click and her plucky determination dictates she dig deeper...even if it's not what the boss wants.

Finding out the truth will effect more than just the outcome of the case. It will also reveal a secret that's been kept for several years within Samantha's own family...a secret that proves Clarissa's murder to be anything but routine and once again puts Samantha's own life in jeopardy.

Missing Justice is a compelling novel of murder, lies and dangerous hidden objectives that span decades. Samantha Kincaid is a no-holds-barred investigative attorney who shows the fiction world what a strong woman can do.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Author's sophomore effort: complex entertaining plot : A+ May 29 2005
By Jerry Bull - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
And so we have here Alafair's second book, "Missing Justice". We agree that whether or not she got published through dad's (James Lee Burke) connections matters not, as this high achiever (Stanford Law School grad, former ADA in Portland OR) obviously herself has what it takes to write a fascinating story. Moreover, the novel is so laced with real life, one learns a lot about workplace issues as a prosecutor, rural land space versus urban growth debates, and the relationship between the cops and the DA's office.

Recently promoted to the Major Crimes Unit, leading lady (and like the author) Portland Assistant DA Samantha Kincaid catches a first case reeling with publicity (and duplicity) when it turns out the missing person turned murder victim, Clarissa Easterbrook, was a sitting local judge of some import in the civil community. It soon enough turns out a black man who had been threatening the judge (due to possibly losing custody of his kids) did the deed, confirmed by plenty of physical evidence. The police get a quick close and the courtroom scenes become little more than a precursor to a plea bargain. But Kincaid smells a rat when too many coincidences start to point to some sort of conspiracy involving land use, permits granted or denied, and unusually generous contributions to a hospital wing her ex-doc husband is trying to fund and build as a legacy. When an affair of the heart between Easterbrook and a small-time politico adds to Kincaid's doubts, our ADA begins plying these nefarious leads into a full-blown alternative to the solution that surfaced so quickly and easily. After many entertaining twists and turns, the truth starts to come out.

This story is well-conceived and well-written, and Kincaid is a very believable and likable character. In our minds, the only thing preventing a fifth star was perhaps a little too much axe-grinding wrought by our ambitious protagonist over the men, including her dad, who are trying to steer or control her life. We are familiar with the difficulties of a woman in supposedly male turf, and felt that Burke's treatment, while subtle enough, was just overdone by quantity. Other than that, we have no difficulty recommending this fine novel; we'll look for her first to catch up on the earlier Kincaid, as well as await her adventure number three due out soon. Like father, like daughter ?!?!
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