Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Alafair Burke's Angel's Tip and True Crime

Do you ever listen to a news story or read about a crime in the paper, and think, this sounds so much like a crime novel I already read? This happened to me today.

Laura Garza is a young woman missing for a week after leaving a Manhattan nightclub with a convicted sex offender. Mike Celizic, contributor said, "Garza, whom friends describe as a woman who never drank or went out with people she didn’t know, was seen leaving a trendy Manhattan nightclub at 4 a.m. with a man identified as Michael Mele, a sandwich shop owner from a town about an hour north of New York City. According to a report filed by NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander, another man rode up to Orange County, N.Y., with Mele and Garza. Mele dropped the man off at a suburban McDonald’s. The man said that Garza and Mele were kissing and laughing in the car."

Alafair Burke's crime novel, Angel's Tip, came out in August. In that novel, "Indiana college student Chelsea Hart is so excited to spend the final hours of her spring break in the VIP room of an elite New York City nightclub that she remains behind when her girlfriends call it a night....NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher catches the case and homes in on the group of young men who were last seen plying Chelsea with drinks."

The Today Show report goes on to say, "Mele is being held in the Orange County Jail on charges of violating his probation for previous public-lewdness convictions and is officially a person of interest in Garza’s disappearance. As New York State Police continue to search for Garza, at least 10 other women and teenage girls have come forward with accounts of being followed and threatened by Mele, often in parking lots outside of shopping malls. Some said he exposed himself to them and rubbed against them."

The description from the cover of Angel's Tip says, "Chelsea's murder is eerily similar to three other deaths that occurred nearly a decade ago: the victims were young, female, and in each case the killer had taken her hair as a souvenir."

The current case sounds eerily like Burke's Angel's Tip. I reviewed Angel's Tip on August 12. Here was my review.

Alafair Burke brings back NYPD Det. Ellie Hatcher in Angel's Tip, and she's a stronger, more confident character in the second book in the series.

When Ellie and her brother, Jess, come across a body while out jogging, she calls it in as the first officer on the scene. Soon, she and her new partner, J.J. Rogan, are pushed to find the killer of the pretty blonde co-ed from Indiana, whose parents have powerful connections. When they arrest a man from the bar where she was partying, everyone is satisfied, except Ellie. A phone call from the father of a murder victim arouses her interest. How many other blonde girls have been killed in recent years, and left with their hair cut?

Burke's latest book is a top-notch police procedural. She has strong, intriguing characters, such as Ellie, Jess, and Rogan. The villain is the weak link in the story since neither he nor his motivation are well-developed. Burke can be forgiven that flaw because the story itself, the characters, and the red herrings are so interesting. Angel's Tip is one more step on Alafair Burke's sure-footed climb to bestseller status.

This current crime just proves that Alafair Burke has her fingers on the pulse of Manhattan for her Ellie Hatcher series. It's sort of scary.

Alafair Burke's website is

Angel's Tip by Alafair Burke. HarperCollins, ©2008. ISBN 978-0061561023 (hardcover), 352p.


Jen Forbus said...

Funny that you posted this today, Lesa. We were talking about this case at lunch and I mentioned how it was so similar to Angel's Tip, too. Art imitates life...and in some cases it's life imitating art, I guess!

Lesa said...

And, check out Alafair's blog tomorrow, Jen. She hadn't heard about this case until I commented on her blog. She's going to talk about it tomorrow. I hope life isn't imitating art too much!


Sounds like a real thriller!
Please enter me in the contest!

Thanks ever so much.

PS> It's snowing here in Southeast Texas.
1 st time in years.
Gonna be a cold cold winter & a hot thriller novel would be nice to curl up with!

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Lesa said...

Thanks, Zestywonderland. But, just wanted to let you know I'm not giving away a copy of Angel's Tip. I do have a contest starting late tonight, so check back then.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Joyce. I hope you continue to enjoy the blog, and come back often!