Although it was published over six years ago, I’ve just gotten around to reading Missing Justice, a worthy early contribution to Alafair Burke’s Samantha Kincaid series. Actually, I didn’t read it; I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Betty Bobbitt. For the most part she was a convincing narrator, effectively rendering a variety of voices. But I was irritated by her inability to laugh realistically, and although her characters spoke differently, they laughed identically. Other than that point, the narration was worth listening to. This mystery revolves around an assistant district attorney (actually called a deputy district attorney in Oregon) and has the ring of truth, even though I can’t say I know anything about prosecution in Oregon. There is a definite sense of place in the characterizations of the Portland area. Following the conventions of the genre, Burke portrays Kincaid as a strong lawyer who thinks outside the box and doesn’t like to follow rules. Unsurprisingly, the person who is accused of the murder (you have to have a murder) turns out not to be guilty, and Kincaid unmasks the true perpetrator.
So, we have a standard mystery without true surprises. Alafair Burke is not yet as skilled a writer as her much more famous father, James Lee Burke, but she is clearly well on her way. Actually I should postpone judgment until I’ve read her more recent books, since Missing Justice reflects her writing from at least seven years ago. So stay tuned on that score.