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If You Were Here
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If You Were Here

3.8 39
by Alafair Burke

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If You Were Here is a thrilling novel of suspense from Alafair Burke, the author Dennis Lehane calls “one of the finest young crime writers working today.”
Manhattan journalist McKenna Jordan is chasing the story of an unidentified woman who heroically pulled a teenaged boy from the subway tracks. When she locates a video that


If You Were Here is a thrilling novel of suspense from Alafair Burke, the author Dennis Lehane calls “one of the finest young crime writers working today.”
Manhattan journalist McKenna Jordan is chasing the story of an unidentified woman who heroically pulled a teenaged boy from the subway tracks. When she locates a video that captures part of the incident, she thinks she has an edge on the competition scrambling to identify the mystery heroine, but is shocked to discover that the woman in the video bears a strong resemblance to Susan Hauptmann, a close friend who disappeared without a trace a decade earlier.
What would have been a short-lived metro story sends McKenna on a dangerous search for the missing woman—a search that will force her to unearth long-buried truths much closer to home…

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Burke’s outstanding stand-alone suspense novel, her second after 2011’s Long Gone, stars appealing (if impulsive) McKenna Jordan, a New York City journalist whose stint covering the DA’s office ended in a maelstrom of media indignation when she falsely accused a cop of planting a gun. McKenna’s investigation into the story of an unidentified woman who singlehandedly pulled a teenager from the subway tracks takes an unexpected turn. Grainy video footage of the incident reveals that the heroic woman uncannily resembles McKenna’s old friend Susan Hauptmann, a gregarious West Point grad whose mysterious disappearance 10 years earlier has haunted McKenna. The stakes rise as McKenna moves from chasing the story du jour to chasing a long-buried truth—revisiting the character of the woman she thought she knew as well as the controversial case that discredited her. Burke succeeds in making Susan plausible as a woman who is charming and complex enough to warrant McKenna hurling herself into an inquiry that threatens her journalistic credibility, her relationship with her husband, and possibly her life. Burke’s accuracy in legal and judicial technicalities is impressive although most readers will find simpler pleasures in her sharp writing, well-constructed plot, and dimensional characters. Agent: Philip Spitzer, the Philip Spitzer Literary Agency. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
Burke opts for a different spin on the thrillers she usually produces, featuring a new heroine, former assistant district attorney turned journalist McKenna Jordan. McKenna is in a pretty nice place these days: She has a handsome former West Pointer for a husband, a great job as a feature writer for a New York–based magazine and hints of a book deal based on a story she wrote. All she has to do is decide what story to write for the magazine's next issue, which she soon accomplishes by tapping out a complicated 4,000-word investigative piece in a mere two hours. But McKenna has baggage, and every once in a while, it comes back to haunt her. A few years ago, as a former assistant district attorney, she prosecuted a case in which a police officer killed a kid who was armed. After researching the weapon, she uncovered evidence that it should have been destroyed years prior; her revelations set off a controversy that torpedoed her legal career and led to her new one as a journalist. Now, it looks like she's embarking on another story that could also have life-changing effects. That story involves a woman that both McKenna and her husband, Patrick, have known for years. Susan Hauptmann, a West Pointer herself, mysteriously disappeared a decade ago, but when McKenna spots a woman who closely resembles Susan in a shaky video taken in a subway, she jumps on the trail. Soon she is up to her neck in subterfuge and lies, and she starts wondering if even the people to whom she's closest are telling her the truth. While the first half of the book builds reader anticipation, the second half bogs down in a hopelessly complicated plot that harbors false ending after false ending. A frustrating read with too many West Point facts and an ending that just won't end.
Meg Gardiner
If You Were Here is a winner: a suspenseful, tightly plotted story of friendship, lies, and betrayal. Alafair Burke writes deftly about secrets buried close to home. An accomplished novel by an assured author.”
Linwood Barclay
“After finishing If You Were Here, I don’t feel I can trust anyone ever again, except Alafair Burke to provide a cracking good read.”
Gillian Flynn
“You know you are in good hands with her, and can relax without wondering if things are going to fall apart midway through. ...Burke’s female characters are always very involving, with big, strong voices.”
Associated Press Staff
“Captivating…. Burke excels in writing compelling character-driven stories mixed with baffling mysteries.”
“Exciting....Lawyer turned-journalist McKenna finds her life turned upside down when she recognizes a friend from her college years who disappeared without a trace a decade before on a video of a near-tragedy on the subway….Will engage [Burke’s] growing audience.”
Houston Chronicle
“The plot complexity of this richly populated book keeps the action pumping, but it is the delicate shifts in perception that intrigue…keeps readers edgily engaged.”
Pittsburgh Tribune
“One of the more-talented crime writers working today.”
National Examiner
“Fast-paced nail-biter.”
RT Book Reviews
“Burke’s first class adventure has murder and mayhem wrapped up in an intricate, innovative plot. Gripping from the first page....Will keep readers guessing until the end.”
“Nicely crafted, plenty of suspense to go around, a couple of unanticipated twists - what’s not to like?”
Sacramento Bee
If You Were Here veers from one realistic twist to another with aplomb. Years of betrayal, lies and distrust rise to the surface as the suspenseful plot never falters.… Outstanding.”
Library Journal
A woman single-handedly saves the life of a young baseball star after he falls onto a subway track, and all of New York City is talking. When journalist McKenna Jordan discovers cell phone footage of the rescue, she is shocked to see that the heroic mystery woman bears a striking resemblance to a friend who disappeared a decade earlier. McKenna's obsession with finding the subway hero uncovers memories and unanswered questions from a time in her life she'd rather forget. A string of bad luck and accusations are not enough to dissuade McKenna from finding the truth. Alone and discredited, she continues to seek answers and piece together a story that will ultimately change the past. VERDICT A break from Burke's Ellie Hatcher series (Never Tell; Angel's Tip), her new stand-alone delivers a cleverly nuanced plot that will keep the pages turning. Her smart writing is fast-paced and engaging, and this book should appeal to most mystery readers, especially those looking for compelling, intelligent story lines. Despite a somewhat drawn-out, complicated ending, the overall reading experience is a delight. [See Prepub Alert, 12/14/12.]—Vicki Briner, City Coll. Lib., Fort Lauderdale, FL

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Alafair Burke is the New York Times bestselling author of ten previous novels, including the standalone thrillers Long Gone and If You Were Here, and the Ellie Hatcher series: All Day and a Night, Never Tell, 212, Angel’s Tip, and Dead Connection. She is also the coauthor of the Under Suspicion series with Mary Higgins Clark. A former prosecutor, she is now a professor of criminal law and lives in Manhattan.

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If You Were Here 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this author; really disliked this book. The plot was a mishmash of too many storylines. McKenna Jordan may be one of the most dislikable heroines to be the lead in a book. She changes emotions in nanoseconds. Example: She loves and trusts her husband more than life itself and she knows him implicitly. She could talk about anything. Wait. The next second she is sleeping at a friend's because her husband may not be the man she thought he was. Well, you idiot. then talk to him about your questions. She has to be right about EVERYTHING. She interferes constantly and tells people how she thinks they should run their lives. This author is usually so consistent in her writing but this book is a mess of convenience. Characters change their character to fit the plotline. OMW, I kept reading hoping this story would even. Never did.
lmfuhrman More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. As a journalist myself, I was intrigued by the story, with the added bonus that it centers on New York City. I really liked the writing style; I found myself flying through the pages. The twists and turns of the plot were unexpected and engaging, but they did get complicated and, honestly, a little too twisted for me to follow along with, and I felt like the ending was a little implausible. That said, it was still an enjoyable, fast-paced read. Finished it in less than a week!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. The pace moves fast and the story weaves in creative ways. I had a hard time putting it down. Two thumbs up.
Twink More than 1 year ago
Alafair Burke is the author of two wonderful series featuring recurring characters Samantha Kincaid, a lawyer and Detective Ellie Hatcher. In her latest book If You Were Here (a stand alone) she brings us another great protagonist - and another fantastic book for some hot summer reading. McKenna Jordan is a journalist for a NYC magazine. This is a second career for McKenna. She was an Assistant District Attorney for the city, but she resigned in disgrace after badly fumbling her first big case. Looking for her next story for the magazine, McKenna decides to follow up on a report of a woman rescuing a young man from certain death on the subway tracks; then disappearing. Bystander cell phone footage is blurry, but McKenna is sure the woman is her old friend Susan - who disappeared ten years ago. Her husband Patrick went to school with Susan and he's equally sure it can't be her. "She watched the video one more time. There was no way to be certain, but somehow the woman in the video looked more like Susan with every viewing. If Susan was still alive, where had she been all this time? Why did she leave? Why didn't she tell anyone? And why was she back now? Hooked! Oh yes, I do love this kind of book. And Burke takes it to a new level with If You Were Here. I loved the slow peeling back of layers as McKenna revisits the disappearance of Susan, the case that cost her her ADA career - and her relationship with her husband. We're along for the ride with McKenna chasing leads and wondering who is telling the truth. I really enjoyed McKenna as a character - she's dogged and determined, but not perfect. Burke's plotting was complex and intricately carved from seemingly disparate puzzle pieces just waiting to be clicked into place. Read carefully - ostensibly innocuous comments end up being subtly inserted clues to the final answer. And that final answer was nowhere near where I thought the book would go. Burke kept me guessing and kept me engaged from first page to last. This one's on my hot summer reads list. If you haven't read Alafair Burke yet - what are you waiting for?!
StephWard More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars 'If You Were Here' is a phenomenal new mystery/thriller novel by bestselling author Alafair Burke. It follows leading lady McKenna Wright - who is a journalist for a magazine - as she looks into a story about an unknown woman who rescued a teenage boy from the subway tracks right before he was to be hit by a train. McKenna watches footage of the event and is surprised when the mysterious woman strongly resembles her friend Susan, who has been missing for the past decade. Now McKenna is determined to find the truth about the woman in the video and what really happened to Susan all those years ago. She has no idea how far - or how close - her investigation is about to lead her. This was a magnificently written thriller novel that had me captivated from the first paragraph. There are lots of story lines happening at once throughout the book, so there are several smaller plots and mysteries that the reader has to keep up with, which only makes it harder to put down. McKenna is an awesome main character. She's a strong, intelligent, and capable journalist who works hard and is determined to discover the truth at all costs. I found her easy to identify with and immediately loved her as the heroine. The other characters were all well written, even the ones that barely made an appearance in the story, so much so that they all left a distinct impression on me as I read about them. It was easy to believe that they were real people mixed up in Susan's disappearance. The plot was fresh and original. The way the author wrote it was very perceptive and engaging that I felt like I was working the story alongside McKenna and trying to figure out what really happened. Like any good mystery or thriller novel, the plot had several twists and turns that I didn't see coming - which only made me more determined to figure out the truth. I was reading as fast as I could to see what was going to happen next. The writing was phenomenal with a fast pace, believable dialogue, and effortless flow. Although there are several story lines happening at once throughout the novel, I never felt confused between them and they only deepened the intrigue that the author created. This is definitely a novel that mystery and thriller fans will want to dive into - if they haven't done already. The author proves herself to have enormous talent and ingenuity in the thriller genre and I'm eagerly awaiting her next release. Highly recommended for fans of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels! Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
If You Were Here by Alafair Burke is a fic­tional mys­tery tak­ing place in New York City. Ms. Burke is a best-selling author, for­mer pros­e­cu­tor and a teacher of crim­i­nal law. Jour­nal­ist McKenna Wright is writ­ing a fluff piece when she thinks she saw an old friend who dis­ap­peared ten years ago with­out a trace. Using her con­nec­tions as a for­mer pros­e­cu­tor and her investigator’s instincts, McKenna pur­sues the mat­ter in a search across New York City and finds long buried, dark secrets of those she loves the most. I don’t know what to think about If You Were Here by Alafair Burke. On one hand this was a well writ­ten, fast paced novel, on the other the plot was con­vo­luted. While I appre­ci­ate intri­cate sto­ry­lines, this one just seemed to be made out of sep­a­rate puz­zles which are some­what forced together. At first I thought this would be a quick read, but I soon dis­cov­ered that to keep track of the sto­ry­line I had to read care­fully because an off the wall com­ment could be the next be clue (as is some­times in real life). The nar­ra­tive had me guess­ing until the end which was sur­pris­ing but some­how anti-climatic. To me the story seemed far­fetched to the point where it was get­ting con­vo­luted. While I liked the fact that Ms. Burke drew on life-like events like the com­ments described in the pre­vi­ous para­graph, the whole plot was over the top and the char­ac­ters lacked depth to make it more believ­able. The pro­tag­o­nist, McKenna, is a smart, strong woman but the author keeps bring­ing up her past career as a lawyer every few pages as if to remind the reader that McKenna is a … smart, strong woman. Dis­claimer: I got this book for f Over­all the novel was not a bad sum­mer read, I’d cer­tainly rec­om­mend it if you like mys­ter­ies and are going on a vaca­tion soon. I did like the way the book is writ­ten and will cer­tainly pick up a dif­fer­ent book by the author if I get a chance.Dis­claimer: I got this book for free Dis­claimer: I got this book for f
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first time in a long time that I stumbled on a new-to-me author and fell in love with the writing and story. This is a gripping mystery that you will not be able to put down. Unlike any story I have previously read and I am a book worm!
AMA001 More than 1 year ago
Great book! Could hardly put it down. When I reached what I thought was the end of the story I was wrong. I mean arrests were made and it appeared the bad guys were in jail. However, there were too many more pages to read for it to be the end. Highly Recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Compelling story and prose you can relate to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the book. Added to my list I recommend to friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thrilling with a lot of twists.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just when you think you have it figured out , things change Hard to put down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was original and interesting. Definately recommend.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story and plot. Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Sure wish the author wrote faster so I wouldn't have to wait so long for her next book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not get into it from the beginning. It was slow and redundant. I loved her other books.