(Don’t be fooled by the picture, this is not a love story. It’s only me playing on Instagram.)
Title: The Ex
Author: Alafair Burke
Release date: January 26th 2016
Started: March 28th 2016
Finished: April 2nd 2016
Defense attorney Olivia Randall receives an intriguing phone call from a distressed teenager explaining that her father has been taken in by the police for questioning regarding a shooting in a nearby park. Just another day at the office. Except the father is Jack Harris, the man whose heart was broken twenty years ago by Olivia.
The police’s case is strong: a CCTV footage putting Jack at the crime scene, and the man’s history that gives them the perfect motive. Indeed, one of the victims happens to be the father of a teenager responsible for another shooting from three years ago, shooting during which Molly Harris, a mother and wife, had been killed. Still, Jack has an alibi…
There is something you should know about me before we head to the review. In another life, I could have become a lawyer, had I finished law school. That is why I am a sucker for crime fictions involving lawyers. This is the main reason why The Ex was one of my most anticipated reads. I love that the author was a district attorney and now teaches criminal law and procedure, it definitely adds a feeling of accuracy to the story.
The constant showdowns between the cold facts and Olivia’s beliefs about he man she spent 5 years with make the reader question every side of the story, the balance being good enough to not let you draw any conclusion too fast. Is Olivia’s guilt about what happened between her and Jack clouding her judgment or is she right to rely on her knowledge about the man to prevent the police from destroying the remaining of this family? Olivia’s efforts to dismantle every piece of evidence brought by the police by coming up with every possible scenario to explain them is done in a clever way that will talk to the readers familiar with legal shows. But as the investigation unfolds, Olivia starts wondering whether she can rely on what she knows about her ex-fiancé, or if she ever really knew him at all.
Olivia is a complicated and flawed character. Relationships are definitely not her forte, except for her special bond with alcohol. She has not forgiven herself for what happened with Jack and her guilt hover on her like a shadow. The confidence she has as a lawyer disappears when it comes to her personal life. I felt sympathy for her as she went down memory lane and tried to deal with her actions of the past. The ending was not just about solving the legal mystery, but also bringing Olivia some closure of her own.
We meet Jack at the precinct, with Olivia shaping our first impression on him. He is introduced as a single dad fighting to get some justice for his wife’s death. The investigation unveils later that Jack is far from being a one-dimensional character. I love how the author plays with the idea of how much we can really know someone as well as how appearances can be deceiving and events misinterpreted. For every evidence against Jack, a good explanation can be found. Until good explanations stop being enough and doubts starts creeping in.
The reason I cannot give The Ex the perfect rating is that I found out the truth sooner than I’d hoped. At some point in the second half of the book, something shifted and the answer appeared clear and obvious. I wish it hadn’t because it only made the last chapters less interesting as I was absolutely sure to be right. Maybe my addiction to Law&Order is to blame and you won’t have the same issue. Nonetheless, The Ex is a gripping legal thriller that will keep you wondering about how far you can go for the ones you love.