Long Goneby Alafair Burke
“Long Gone is a tremendous novel, and Alafair Burke is one of the finest young crime writers working today.”
--Dennis Lehane, author of Moonlight Mile
Echoing the intensity of Harlan Coben’s Tell No One and the psychological depth of Laura Lippman’s What the Dead Know, Alafair Burke’s first/em>/em>/em>/em>
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“Long Gone is a tremendous novel, and Alafair Burke is one of the finest young crime writers working today.”
--Dennis Lehane, author of Moonlight Mile
Echoing the intensity of Harlan Coben’s Tell No One and the psychological depth of Laura Lippman’s What the Dead Know, Alafair Burke’s first stand-alone novel catapults her into the top ranks of modern suspense. In New York City’s cut-throat world of art, appearances can be deceiving—especially when art world newcomer Alice Humphrey becomes a suspect in a gruesome murder at a Chelsea gallery, and is thrown into a treacherous labyrinth of intrigue, crime, and conspiracy. Now, Alice must discover the truth behind the murder before the unsolved mystery claims her as its next victim.
“A fine novel of suspense by a powerful new young crime writer . . . brought to life by the audio format.”
- HarperCollins Publishers
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Read an Excerpt
Long GoneA Novel
By Alafair Burke
HarperCollinsCopyright © 2011 Alafair Burke
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMost of the best things in life came to Alice organically. Not
because she asked. Not because she looked. Not because she
forced. They happened because she stumbled onto them. The high
f lying philosophical question of whether the pieces of her life fell
into place through luck, randomness, fate, or unconscious intuition
was way above her pay grade, but somehow things usually worked
out for her.
She ended up an art major because a course she took on the art
of Italian Renaissance courts turned out not to count toward her
declared history concentration. She wound up back in Manhattan
after college because she followed a boyfriend home. She'd found
her current apartment when she overheard a man sitting next to her
at a bar tell his friend that he'd been transferred to the Los Angeles
office and would have to break his lease. The opportunity Drew
Campbell handed to Alice came not only when she'd needed it
most, but also in a way that felt exactly as it shouldnatural,
discovered, meant to be.
The gallery was in the Fuller Building, one of her favorites. She
paused on her way in to admire the art deco features dotted generously
inside and out. The opening reception was the artist's first
public appearance in a decade, so she expected the exhibition to be
packed. Instead she found plenty of room to pace the spacious gallery,
wine glass in hand, as she leisurely studied the overlapping abstract
shapes, layered so meticulously on the canvases that it seemed
they might leap weightlessly from the wall and float away into the
She noticed him before he ever approached her, flipping through
the price list as he admired one of the larger works, a carnival scene
in oil. Beneath a few days of fashionable stubble, his face was very
severe in a way that was both handsome and out of place in a froufrou
gallery, but his clothing signaled he was in the right spot. She
watched him speak to the emaciated, black bunned woman she
recognized as the gallery's owner. She wondered what he'd be paying
for the canvas.
Alice was pleased when she felt him looking at her. Optimistic
enough to meet him halfway across the gallery, she paused in front
of an abstract of layered triangles and then smiled to herself as he
made his way over.
"It's a shame there aren't more people here," he said. "Drew
She returned the handshake and introduction.
"So, Alice, what are your theories about this dismal turnout?"
"It's crazy, right? You know some gallery down in Chelsea is
packed tonight for a gum-chewing punk just out of art school who
doodles celebrities. Meanwhile, this man could have been Jackson
Pollock, and it's like Mormon night at the vodka bar in here."
The artist, Phillip Lipton, was at one time a recognized figure in
the New York school of abstract expressionism, a contemporary of
Pollock, de Kooning, Rauschenberg, and Kline. Apparently none of
this was lost on her new acquaintance.
"I know an art dealer who used to represent him. You would not
believe the player the old man used to be. You've heard of picky guys
who only date skinny girls or blondes? Well, he supposedly only
dated ballerinas, and yetdespite that very narrow limitation
always managed to have a new nimble babe at his side each week.
There was a joke that he must have been fattening them all up with
steak and ice cream so the New York City ballet company would
have to replace them one by one. He'd hold court in the Village at
One if by Land."
She could picture the younger version of the artist there, smoking
cigarettes, wearing that fedora he always seemed to sport in the
few photographs available of him in that era. Now Lipton was a
ninety-one-year-old man whose sixty-year-old wife was brushing
away crumbs from his jacket lapel at an under attended exhibition
with, so far, only two "sold" tags posted, including the one the gallery
owner had just slipped next to the carnival painting Drew had
"So you're interested in art?" Drew said.
"Until recently, it was my profession." She told him about her
former job at the Met, truncating the long personal story behind
her dismissal. It was easier to chalk her current unemployment up
to the museum budget cuts and layoffs that had made newspaper
The conversation between them came easily. He had a good,
natural smile. Earnest eye contact. The appearance of a genuine interest
in what she had to say. It was strange: there was nothing sexual
about it, and yet she felt herself getting pulled in, not by the man's
looks or charm but by the refreshing feeling of being treated as if
she mattered. Not merely as her father's daughter. And not like an
out-of-work single woman whose petals had already begun to wilt.
As she felt herself brightening in a way she could barely remember,
it suddenly dawned on her how eight months of unemployment
had taken their toll. Without even recognizing the transformation,
she had started to see herself as a loser.
Alice never meant to be a thirty-seven-year-old woman without
a career, but she knew that plenty of less fortunate people would
question the choices she'd made along the way. Even in the
beginning, she hadn't gone to one of the intellectually rigorous prep
schools that happily would have had her, opting instead to be with
her more socially inclined friends. But, unlike most of them, she
worked hard. She went to collegeand not just a party school with
a fancy reputation, but an actual school known for its academics.
Granted, it was a funky liberal arts college and not an Ivy League,
and then followed by the few requisite years of post college floundering
that were typical for her crowd. The two-year stint as a publicist for a cosmetics company. That disastrous three-year marriage in St. Louis before she'd realized her mistake. But she'd started over, returning to school for her master's in fine arts. And when she was finished, she'd gone to work in the development office of what
she believed to be the most impressive building in the worldthe
Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Now, in hindsight, she realized how silly and indulgent all of
those choices had been. Her parents spent a fortune on high school
tuition just so she'd land at an even more expensive college that no
one aside from a few tweed-jacketed PhDs had heard of. Then she
double downed with that graduate degree.
When she'd landed the job at the Met, she'd been stupid enough
to believe she'd earned it. Maybe if she had been hired for merit
her knowledge of art, her ability to raise money, her marketing
experience, a demonstrated skill at somethingshe'd still be there
in her cubicle above Central Park, quietly drafting the pamphlet to
announce the upcoming Chuck Close exhibit to the museum's most
Or if she had at least recognized the truth, maybe she would
have predicted that a decision in her personal life would affect her
employment. She would have realized how ridiculous she must
have looked when she'd announced to her father that she no longer
wanted his help. No more rent payments or annual "gifts." Her
absolute insistence: No more help, Papa.
Well, unbeknownst to her, some of his help had being going to
the museum, and when the donations dried up and the Met had to
make layoffs, she was among the first on the chopping block.
It wasn't until she updated her résumé that she realized that her
adult life didn't exactly add up to the perfect formula for employment
in the current economy. In the eight months that had passed
since her layoff, she had been offered precisely one job: personal
assistant to a best-selling crime novelist. A friend who knew of
Alice's plight was among a fleet of the man's rotating companions and
suggested her for the job. She warned Alice that the man could be
frugal, so when he wanted Alice to return his half-eaten carton of
yogurt to the deli because he didn't like the "seediness" of the raspberry
flavor, Alice had sprung for the new $1.49 carton of smooth
blueberry. The friend had also warned Alice of his "nonconformist"
ways, so Alice compliantly agreed when he'd asked her to restrain
him atop his dining room table so he could figure out how his
character might escape his predicament. But she had finally pulled
the plug when the boss's two questionable characteristics merged
together in a single request: that she personally participate in a three
way with him and a hired escort so he could collect "quotidian
details" of the experience without paying double.
Alice promptly resigned, but still kicked herself at the manner in
which she'd done itblaming it on his erratic hours instead of raising
her knee directly into the glorified subject of most of his research.
Maybe it was because she'd been thinking about that short-lived
joband the belittlement it still invokedthat she wanted to believe
the part of the conversation with Drew Campbell that came next.
"Would you be interested in managing a gallery of your own?"
Normally, she would have choked on her wine at the absurdity of
the question, but Drew floated it past her in a way that felt as natural
as an observation about the weather.
"Of course. I always assumed I'd work in the art world in some
way or another. I think I just underestimated how hard it was to get
and keep this kind of work."
The art world, as even tonight's featured artist exemplified, was
a young person's domain. And Alice was a woman. And she wasn't
even an artist. And at thirty-seven, she was already past her prime.
"I'll have to check on a few things, but you might be the perfect
person for a new gallery I'm helping with."
"What kind of position?"
"Manager. It's a small place, but we need someone who will
really pour themselves into it."
She was unemployed. Her last job was fetching coffee for a
sociopath who should probably be on a sex offender registration. It
was hard to believe anyone legitimate would hand her keys to a
gallery. Her skepticism must have shown in her face.
"Now don't go picturing a gallery like this. And I should probably
warn you, it's a bit of a risk as far as employment goes. I've got
a clienta guy I've bought art forhe's what his friends call eccentric.
If he didn't have money, they'd call him a nutcase."
"Eccentric? I've fallen for that line before."
"Trust me. It's nothing weird. This is one of my oldest clients.
He was a friend of my father's, actually, so he's been letting me help
him out for years. With time, he's come to really trust me. Turns
out he's a quiet old guy who likes the company of younger men.
He treats them well, and they provide companionship, if you know
what I mean."
"Not exactly subtle."
"Anyway, his most recent friend has been in the picture longer
than most, and I guess my client is ready to provide a more substantial
level of support. He wants a modest little gallery to showcase
emerging artists. Of course one of the artists will have to be his
friend. This kid's gotten his work in a few group showings, but he
still hasn't landed a solo exhibit at a New York gallery."
"But thanks to your client, he'll soon be a featured artist."
"Exactly. And I'm sure he'll be very grateful to my client for the
"You keep referring to him as 'your client.' "
"Trust me. You've heard of him. And while there have been
rumors about his personal life for decades, it's all unconfirmed, so
I'm not about to out him. But, I kid you not, he is a serious collector.
That piece I just held is for him. If I can find the right space
and the right person to run a gallery, he won't get in the way. He
won't even take credit for owning it. But he'll want it to be a place
he'd be proud of. Cutting edge. A little anti-establishment, but really
good stuff. This would be a good opportunity for someone in your
"Sounds like a good opportunity for anyone."
He shrugged. "I've quietly spoken to a few people, and they
wouldn't pull the trigger. They're worried the owner will move
on to some other passion projecta gallery today, a gourmet ham-
burger stand tomorrow. Then there's my client's consort to worry
about. He can't be thrown to the wayside like any other artist."
"Not everyone would be so forthcoming about the back story."
"I'm not willing to burn bridges to satisfy the whims of a fickle
old man, even if I do love him like my own closeted gay uncle.
Some of the more established people I've approached just aren't
willing to take the leap under the circumstances. You might not
have the luxury of their worries."
"If that's a nice way of saying beggars can't be choosers, consider
Like a teenage girl going home after her first concert, Alice left
the gallery with a signed brochure from the exhibit and a feeling
that the person she had met there just might change her life.
Excerpted from Long Gone by Alafair Burke Copyright © 2011 by Alafair Burke. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are saying about this
—Nelson DeMille, New York Times-bestselling author of The Lion
—Lisa Unger, New York Times-bestselling author of Darkness My Old Friend
—Dennis Lehane, New York Times-bestselling author of Moonlight Mile
—Karin Slaughter, New York Times-bestselling author of Fallen
Meet the Author
Alafair Burke is the New York Times bestselling author of ten previous novels, including If You Were Here and the Ellie Hatcher series.
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Alice Humphrey has been out of work for way too long. When Drew Campbell approaches her about managing a new art gallery she jumps at the chance. The only stipulation is that she must display the art of the owners lover a few times a year, but then she will be free to choose which art is displayed. To Alice, this is a dream come true. Her problems begin when the lover of the owner will only correspond with her via email and text messages. To make matters worse, his "art" is very unconventional. So much so that people picket the art show calling his work tasteless and pornographic, while Alice is forced to feign interest in it to sell it. When Drew calls her up and asks her to meet him at the gallery one morning, she arrives to find the gallery cleaned out. The windows are covered and the only thing in the space is the dead body of Drew, and Alice is the suspected killer. In Long Gone, Ms. Burke has crafted a very taught psychological thriller. The twists and turns keep you guessing, and you won't see the ending coming. Typically when I read a mystery I spend a majority of my time trying to figure out "whodunnit", and I wasn't able to guess this time around. My only problem with this book was the setup. It starts out really slow, and introduces a lot of characters and story lines. I had a hard time getting into it. Once the action picked up, it REALLY picked up, and I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this novel to any murder/mystery fan. (Review copy courtesy of NetGalley)
Awesome book Miss Alafair! I just loved it! I couldn't put it down; what an well plotted suspenseful novel! As the daughter of the greatest living mystery writer, James Lee Burke, Alafair has big shoes to fill! And she does with this stand alone novel featuring Alice Humphrey who naively takes on a position running a new gallery for a man she meets at a gallery opening. The charming Drew Campbell draws her into this web of deceit and intrigue that kept me enthralled from beginning to end. There is a great side story as well regarding a missing New Jersey girl. New York City is a main character in this novel as well. Ms. Burke obviously know it well. I loved that Ms. Burke is very current technologically. I loved that she demonstrates the perils of today's social networking sites like Facebook and how if people aren't careful they can expose themselves to all kinds of trouble. And I loved the reference to just having read a novel in which the main character bribes hotel clerks in order to use rooms briefly....Lee Child...Jack Reacher...loved it! At the end of the novel, Ms. Burke thanks all of her readers including those who follow her web site and follow her on Facebook....and my name was listed there! Alafair often asked her followers advice about different things she was working on in her novel and it was fun to chime in! Big Thrill! Totally absolutely recommend this book! It publishes in June so what a great summer read!
A true suspense thriller that had me sucked into it from the first page to the last punctuation. The story centers around Alice Humphrey who is the daughter of a famous director in New York City, she has been unemployed and is trying to find her own path out from underneath the family name. Along comes an opportunity that may seem a little shady but is also too good to pass up and with it will come the biggest unraveling of family drama that will end up changing everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. At first with each chapter there was an introduction of an aspect of the story and at times it was hard to keep it all straight until they eventually started tying together, it got easier as I went along. Because there were a few stories developing at the same time, I was able to see the drama unfold from different angles - this element gave the story some depth to which it couldn't if the author only presented Alice's story from the beginning. I absolutely loved where the book ended up and was surprised until the very end. I would recommend this book to readers who love a little suspense to keep them hooked to the book.
"Long Gone" by Alafair Burke follows thirty-seven year old Alice Humphrey, daughter of a famous director father, former child star, and currently unemployed art-lover who attends an opening for a new gallery before getting recruited by the mysterious Drew Campbell to manage his friend's gallery. It just so happens that managing an art gallery is Alice's dream job-and an opportunity that sounds almost too good to pass up. However, contrary to Alice's expectations, problems begin cropping up immediately. Protestors crowd outside the gallery, complaining that one of the portraits being sold is of an underage girl. The next day, Alice arrives to find the gallery mysteriously empty---all the portraits are gone, but even more disturbingly, someone killed Drew Campbell. Soon enough, police are knocking at Alice's girl-suspecting her of participating in Drew's murder, and even showing Alice a photograph of her kissing Drew. Except Alice knows it's not her. She quickly realizes she is being framed, but by whom? The only people Alice can really trust are her on-again/off-again boyfriend Jeff, and best friend Lily. Or can she? The situation isn't helped when Alice loses trust in her family, as dark secrets become revealed. As Alice tries to figure out what's happening, a teenage girl by the name of Becca Stevens mysteriously disappears. And a detective called Hank Beckman is trailing Travis Larsen, a man who contributed to his sister's death. But even more intriguing, is that these isolated storylines are not so isolated after all, but connect directly to Alice's mystery.. I was not familiar with the author before picking up this book, but I must say, this book was hard to put down. There were a lot of twists and turns in the plot, and far more plot background than was at first let on. Alafair Burke's legal background-she was a Deputy District Attorney and currently teaches criminal law-serve as an excellent framework for the police aspect of this book, and contribute to the plausibility of the plot. Definitely one of my current favorite thrillers.
HarperCollins has been extremely gracious to allow me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release today. I must say that, overall, I enjoyed the novel, but I did struggle with it a little as well. I think that, for me, there were just too many characters and the jump between them all made the novel a little difficult for me to follow. By the end, of course, I was following it pretty well, but the beginning was difficult for me. If you're anything like me, I suggest sticking with the novel because, though the beginning may be confusing, Burke does a wonderful job putting together the murder mystery and I was flabbergasted in the end. I think Burke does a phenomenal job with the suspense in her novel and I never saw the ending coming. Multiple times I thought I'd pinpointed the murdered who'd set Alice up, but I was wrong time and time again. I really enjoy the guessing game that suspense novels evoke, and I recommend this novel to those who love a great mystery. Three stars.
This well-written, action-packed drama led us on a chase with plenty of twist and turns that kept me riveted to the pages. The suspenseful plot moved the story from one scene to the next leaving me with bated breath as I watch this strong heroine rise above everything to find the truth and clear her name. This was a brilliantly-crafted and awesome read that left me wanting more.
Long Gone was my first experience reading Alafair Burke, but it definitely will not be my last. I can now include Alafair Burke on my list of favorite female mystery authors. In Long Gone, unemployed Alice Humphrey meets mysterious Drew Campbell during an art opening. Drew represents an undisclosed wealthy man who plans to open an art gallery featuring his lover's work in its first exhibition. Drew offers Alice the position of gallery manager. Even though the job seems too good to be true, Alice jumps into the position with gusto. Unfortunately, she quickly finds out that her dream job is not so dreamy. First, a group of protesters show up to protest the first exhibition. Then Drew Campbell turns up dead on the floor of an empty gallery. It is as if the gallery never existed. The photographs and the furniture are gone. The space is empty. Alice is the prime suspect in Drew's death. The police even have photographic evidence of her kissing Drew, except that Alice knows she never kissed Drew. So who is the woman in the photo? Is it a really good Photoshop job or does Alice have a doppelganger? Alice realizes that someone is trying to set her up. Alice happens to be a former child actress and the daughter of an award-winning director. With her name connected to the crime, her whole family is dragged into the tabloids. Long Gone provides a perfect mix of family secrets, drama and suspense. There are side stories about a missing high school girl and religious protesters that strongly resemble Fred Phelps and his creepy crew. This book is a completely engrossing read.
In Manhattan, Drew Campbell hires thirty something Alice Humphrey to manage his new Highline Gallery. Unemployed for months Alice loves her job. However, a few weeks after starting Alice arrives at the gallery to find it empty except for Campbell's corpse. NYPD suspects she murdered her lover and has proof of a picture of them together in a very friendly pose. Furthermore they think she used the gallery that is in her name to her shock to distribute child porn. A stunned Alice seeks information on Drew and the gallery, neither seems to have existed. At the same time a PTSD FBI agent unofficially investigates the death of his sister while a teenager in Upstate New York vanished without a trace. Alice, the fed and a small town cop will cross paths as each investigate seemingly unrelated crimes. The three prime subplots are at times overwhelming; the Alice in the rabbit hole can definitely stand alone while the other two cannot. However each is an intense psychological suspense as someone struggles with what is going on whether it is Alice, the Fed or the teen's mom. Alice owns the tale as she learns identity is not as simple as it may seem. Harriet Klausner
The author has written six previous novels, but this is her first standalone, so her familiar characters and themes do not apply. Nevertheless, she has demonstrated an ability to take an idea and run with it, in this case two separate themes with some common threads. The main plot involves Alice Humphrey, daughter of a famous motion picture director and his Academy Award-winning wife. Somewhat estranged from her father, and wishing to demonstrate her independence, she presently is unemployed when a “dream” job falls into her lap. It turns out to be part of a plot against her and her dad, but that is as far as we should go in divulging the plot. A subplot involves a missing teenager. The commonality of the two themes involves the effects of the relationships between the mother of the missing girl and Alice and the law enforcement personnel with whom each is involved. Enough said. Ms. Burke has amply demonstrated in the past her knowledge of the law and the various people involved in enforcing it, and this novel shows her insights into how detectives go about their business. Here empathy for the female characters is obvious, but the male characters seem to be stereotypes. On the whole, however, the novel is an excellent read, and is recommended.
The book follows several different story lines and is somewhat hard to follow. The characters are, at times, obvious in their actions/words. I read this book based on review by another author that I love and was slightly disappointed. Overall, I didn't hate it but I wouldn't recommend it. Sorry!
Good, empathetic characters, well hidden mysteries, well written tale. This is a stand-alone - and a very good one.
When I read that Ms. Burke had personal experience as a prosecutor, I had high hopes for this book. And she IS a good writer. I will say that Burke does a good job with maintaining suspense; you don't find out until near the end of the book, that Art was Alice's father, and that the Larson's killer was Mia. But if you want a realistic portrayal of the justice system and otherwise, don't waste your money. With my own experience in a prosecutor's office, I had hoped the book would be more true-to-life than most crime novels. This hope was not realized. The book just encourages stereotypical beliefs. For example, there is commentary about how race plays into Amber alerts, and mostly White children are sought. This is blatantly untrue. I worked in a major urban area, and I consistenly saw alerts for children of all races; in fact, I saw MORE for African-American children. In addition, though I don't espouse the same beliefs as the "Christians" portrayed in the book, I find their portrayal to be shallow and again, stereotypical. Just like anyone else - Buddhists, atheists, Muslims - Christians are both good and bad, and can't be put into a box like that. The Christian protestors that I have seen, are out there because of sincere beliefs. That possibility was not allowed for. If you want a shallow, quick read, have at it.
I was impressed with this novel. Great story with twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end. All the characters are well developed as well as the plot.
Great book! Very well written and easy to read. Kept me engaged from beginning to end.
Alice Humphrey has been unemployed for months, when she gets the chance to run a gallery. The circumstances of her employment are weird--out of the clear blue, she gets the job. An artist's works are hung, there is a preview with drinks, etc., and the next day, the store is vacant. What is going on? Her father is a noted actor, her mother his co-star when Alice was conceived, and her brother was, and possibly still is, a drug addict. The man who hired her is killed immediately, and Alice is accused. Can she get out of this? I would read other books by this author. Her father is the novelist, James Lee Burke. I might even recommend this to our book group.