Dead Connection

Monday, 29 September 2008 

Dead Connection.jpg

I’ve often thought it seems just a tad unfair when it appears a parent's talent  has somehow been passed on to the next generation.

Of course, it doesn't always seem that the process has been accomplished without the talent in question being somewhat diluted in the process. 

For example, the little I've heard of John Lennon's kids' musical output hasn't inspired me to search out their complete works. 

It might be slightly easier when there's ability on both sides of the genetic fence. One could cite the case of Teddy Thompson, son of Richard and Linda Thompson, or of the various Wainwrights produced by Loudon III and his ex-missus Kate McGarrigle.

Or perhaps it's not related to genetic factors at all. There are plenty of examples of families where successive generations have excelled on the sporting field.

I've long had the sneaking suspicion that when that happens it's the result of the kid's exposure to a sport-based culture from the time they're able to walk, particularly if both parents are still actively involved in some sport and Junior ends up spending much of his or her early life on the edges of Mum and Dad's sports careers.

And the same factors might well come into play where writers are concerned. I was browsing through the crime fiction section of some book store several years ago when I noticed an Alafair Burke lurking on the shelf just in front of a certain James Lee Burke, creator of the Dave Robicheaux novels and one of Hughesy's must buy authors.

James Lee Burke aficionados would be well aware that Dave Robicheaux's adopted daughter is named Alafair, and a brief perusal of the cover of Judgement Calls was enough to verify that this was, in fact, the work of James Lee Burke's daughter.

Given her Dad's prolific output it seems reasonable to suspect that Alafair was familiar enough with the writing process to know what was involved in putting a reasonable crime novel together, so I decided it was worth checking out the story more closely.

That was several years ago now, but my enjoyment of Judgement Calls prompted me to pick up Missing Justice shortly thereafter and a visit to the discount shelves at a Queensland Book Depot put me in the way of Dead Connection, which I duly knocked over one Sunday.

In short, an excellent read that kept me going from beginning to end with minimal interruptions and well worth the asking price.

Detective Ellie Hatcher is a relatively-inexperienced New York police officer unexpectedly enlisted into a homicide investigation that seems to involve an on-line dating service. As the story proceeds it's obvious things aren't quite what they seem and the twists and turns in the plot line are enough to keep the pages turning till everything ends up coming together with the prospect of another case being wound up just over the horizon in a sequel should things work out that way.

Ellie Hatcher's decision to join the New York Police Department stems, in no small part, from the death of her father in an apparent suicide that the family refuses to accept as a closed case.

Given that background, Ellie's determination to keep pursuing the details of a series of sociopathic killings after a reasonably plausible solution has been arrived at by those in charge of the case makes sense and that motivation seems like something that could be parlayed into a series based on the same character.

There's a natural partner for the character in reporter Peter Morse, who develops from a one-night stand to a prospective permanent partner, though avoiding a conflict of interest between the news media and police investigations could well be problematic.

Ellie's would-be rock star brother Jess probably also opens some interesting possibilities when it comes to creating new plot lines.

And it's reasonable to expect that, given her knowledge of a successful writer's lifestyle, Alafair Burke will continue to find the time away from her full-time job teaching criminal law at Hofstra Law School in New York to produce further examples of very well-crafted crime fiction. 

I'm looking forward to reading them.

© Ian Hughes 2012