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We've brought in the Sister Judd--Mary-Ellen [Judd] Walter--for this review since she's a prosecutor herself, like the main character in the book:

Missing Justice is the second entry in the Samantha Kincaid series. It picks up a couple of weeks after the end of Judgment Calls, in which Sam narrowly avoids being killed by a criminal she was investigating. It ends as Sam narrowly avoids being killed by a criminal she is investigating. Do you notice a pattern here?

Despite the somewhat formulaic plot, Missing Justice is an enjoyable book. It moves at a brisk pace and certainly keeps your interest. Burke continues to develop the main characters and their complicated interrelationships. The novel opens as Sam adjusts to her new assignment to Major Crimes. As luck, or good fiction, would have it, her first case turns out to be the murder of an administrative law judge. Before long, Sam is ignoring her boss’ directive to play well with others and is being threatened with losing her job. In the end, she makes sure that justice is done, despite being almost killed . . . again.

Although there is a marked difference between the fact and fiction, Burke manages nicely to intertwine amusing bits of real life. One passage struck me in particular. Someone moved Sam’s things into her new office (never happens), but had swiped her "black leather, high-backed swivel chair." (happens all the time) I had to laugh to myself when Sam describes how she had to suck up to the supply person in order to get a chair that wasn’t a one-way ticket to the chiropractor. I know I have done this more times than I care to admit, despite the fact that I’m sitting in a very comfortable desk chair, with two matching side chairs.

She’s also dead on when she describes the typical lunch from a mini-mart or a street cart. In Philadelphia, a soft pretzel and a Diet Coke are considered the lunch of champions . . . and all for $1.

Missing Justice is a more compelling read than Judgment Calls. Burke is well on her way to becoming a respected figure in the crime novel genre.


Grade: (B+)


See also:

Alafair Burke (2 books reviewed)
Alafair Burke Links:

    -Alafair S. Burke (Associate Professor of Law, Hofstra University School of Law)
    -AUTHOR SITE: Alafair Burke
    -INTERVIEW: An Interview with Alafair Burke (
    -INTERVIEW: Like father, like daughter: For the Burkes, crime fiction is all in the family (JAY MACDONALD, July 2003, Book Page)
    -REVIEW: of Judgment Calls by Alafair Burke (Susanna Cornett, Blogcritics)
    -REVIEW: of Judgment Calls by Alafair Burke (January Magazine)
    -REVIEW: of Judgment Calls by Alafair Burke (Kam White, Mostly Fiction)
    -REVIEW: of Judgment Calls by Alafair Burke (Kate Ayers, Book Reporter)

    -INTERVIEW: The Dick Staub Interview: James Lee Burke is a Cowboy with a Conscience: The author of In the Moon of Red Ponies discusses rejection, perseverance, and the call to write. (06/30/2004, Christianity Today)

Book-related and General Links: