I had never read any of Alafair Burke’s thrillers when I was offered the chance to read and review Long Gone. I’m not sure how her work slipped past me. Once I read the blurb from the publisher for Long Gone, I was intrigued and decided to check it out. I’m really glad I did!
From the outside looking in, it might look like 37 year old Alice Humphrey has led a charmed life. Why? Let’s see – Both of her parents are entertainment industry insiders and her dad is a famous movie director, she lives in the West Village in Manhattan, she shops at the best designer stores, she parties in all the right places, she went to the best schools and majored in art, and, after some minor bumps in the road, she landed a plum job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Alice was convinced the best things in her life happened organically, because she stumbled onto them, and she had a lot of evidence to back that up. All in all, things normally worked out for her pretty effortlessly.
Then about a year ago, she discovered the tabloid rumors about her dad’s love affairs were true. Alice was disgusted and refused any more help from him. Ever since she’s been learning just how much he helped her in her career. That job at the Met? Not hers anymore. Without his sizable donations to the museum, and with the recession’s funding cuts, they suddenly didn’t have the funds for her position and laid her off. Talk about an ego bruiser! That was eight months ago and she’s been pounding the pavement ever since, getting more and more depressed about her inability to land a decent art job without her dad’s connections. Still, she refuses to buckle under – she will make it on her own. The bottom line is that Alice has led a very protected life without realizing it, allowing her to make choices that less financially endowed peers could never have indulged.
While attending an abstract expressionism artist’s reception at a Fuller Building gallery, she met Drew Campbell. Alice had seen the very attractive Drew discussing purchasing a large painting with the gallery owner and maneuvered to meet him halfway around the exhibition. While discussing the dismal turnout and the art world’s peculiarities, she felt like what she said really mattered to him because of who she was – not just because of who her father was.
When Drew asked if she would be interested in managing a gallery of her own, and she realized he was serious, she jumped on it – after consulting with her two best friends, Jeff and Lily, to get their opinions. Their advice, “If it sounds too good to be true, it might be,” made sense but she saw this job as a way to prove herself and she thought she knew all the catches to the offer. The main catch was that Drew’s confidential well-known but closeted client was a tad eccentric and wanted to open the gallery for his current boy toy, who fancied himself an artist. Alice would be free to choose any other emerging artists for solo or group shows; however, the client’s boy toy would be showcased in two solo shows per year.
Alice accepts the job and everything plays out exactly like Drew promised, including that the boy toy artist skirts the edge with his self-indulgent artwork. When the opening is held orders pour in, thanks to Drew’s ingenious marketing plan. Despite annoying religious protestors picketing the gallery because of the exhibition’s questionable nature, and reporters relentlessly hounding her, Alice is still excited about the gallery’s potential and has plans for how to make it into a trendy Meatpacking District gallery. Still given all the negative PR, she decides she needs to track down the elusive client behind the exhibit.
Shortly after the news coverage really heats up, she gets a call from Drew late one night telling her to meet him at the gallery at 7am. When she arrives, the windows have been papered over, the security gate is unlocked and the door is unlocked. When she enters, all of the artwork has been removed and the place is dark. While trying to find a working light, she slips in something on the floor and falls, only to see Drew’s body lying on the floor in front of her. Freaking out about all the blood and the body, she phones the police to report it.
“Drew Campbell lay on his side, a magenta pool forming beneath him despite the bundling of his winter coat. [Alice’s]Her hands and knees and shins and forearms were soaked in his fresh blood. She felt her fingertips stick to the glass screen of her phone as she dialed 911.”
Not only is Alice’s dream job gone but she becomes the main suspect in Drew’s murder for reasons she cannot fathom. Her protected existence has been shattered and she has no skills for dealing with something so far outside of her reality. Despite well-meaning attempts to help by her best friends and her brother Ben, things don’t add up at all and she gets further and further implicated. Her desperate search to prove her innocence and clear her name lead her down a dangerous trail back through her history that will uncover things that will change her world forever.
This was one hell of a page turner – another really late couple of nights. I am normally pretty good at guessing what’s going to happen in thrillers but not this time! Just when I thought I knew how things were going to turn out, the story would take another twisty turn. In the end, it all made sense but getting there was one hell of an exciting ride! If you like good edge of your seat action, I hope you’ll decide to give this one a try!
Below is a video trailer for the book that I think you’ll enjoy:
If you’ve read any of Alafair Burke’s novels, we’d love to get your comments on them or on her as a novelist. We’d also love to hear your comments about this review.
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