The way that Dead Connection ended, I figured this one would be Ellie going back home for a while, and was pleased to see I was wrong. I really appreciated the way that Burke fed us details on Ellie's trip to Kansas to investigate her father's death in bits and pieces rather than in one big dump of information somewhere along the way and/or a novel-length tale. I'm sure at some point we will get a lot more time and attention paid to that story, but for now, I'm satisfied keeping the focus on Ellie's work with the NYPD.
Instead, we find our detective thrown into another high-profile murder case -- this time, a pretty co-ed visiting the Big Apple from Indiana ends up murdered after a night out on the town. The evidence seems to point at the kind of guy you want it to be (especially if you're a Law & Order viewer): some young Wall Street type with more money and good looks than sense. But Ellie, naturally, stumbles onto something else. Something big -- that goes back years.
And well, things proceed from there as they do in this type of book. Again, Burke had me fooled, and I didn't see the solution until she wanted me to -- but once she did, everything fit just like it should. Nothing spectacular here, but very satisfactory.
There were a couple of characters who were clearly introduced as redshirts (to borrow from another genre), interestingly drawn -- moreso than many authors would do. I genuinely felt bad for one of them towards the end of their life, like I would have a major character I'd spent a book or two getting to know.
I thought the characters of Ellie; her brother, Jess; and her boyfriend with the name I can't remember, were essentially who they were last time -- a little more fleshed out. The highlight for me was Ellie's new partner, the oddly (but believably) well-to-do Detective J. J. Rogan. I enjoyed him as a character, as well as his interaction with Ellie and hope Burke doesn't replace him too soon (not sure why after only two books I assume that the role of Ellie's partner will be adjacent to a revolving door, but I do).
This book wasn't a lean-forward, turn the pages as fast as you can thriller. But man, it was hard to put down, and was just so easy to go from chapter to chapter to "just one more...". Between her ease of style and likability of characters, this is just one of those books that you don't want to put down. Not the greatest mystery novel I read last year year, but it was one of the smoothest reads.