Hands up who would rather be widowed than divorced?
Not that the main characters in Alafair Burke’s novel, The Ex, ever married. Olivia Randall, a criminal defence lawyer, and Jack Harris, a novelist, were engaged to be married over twenty years ago but Olivia had commitment issues and gave Jack the best possible reason to break up with her.
Twenty years later, Jack is the main suspect in a shooting where three people have been murdered, when Olivia receives a phone call from Jack’s teenage daughter Buckley, asking, or rather telling Olivia, that she has to help Jack, because of how Olivia treated her father in the past.
Olivia isn’t a likeable person. She is good at her work but her people skills are terrible, which has been career-limiting for her, especially as she points out, that “court is a popularity contest.” Olivia’s first appearance in The Ex has her in bed with someone else’s husband, so it certainly surprised me that she felt guilty for wrecking Jack’s life by messing around on him all those years ago, and so took on his case.
I didn’t like Olivia at first. She is rude and brash and the sort of person who would walk all over everyone else to get her own way. I did like Jack though. As a widower, a single father and a novelist, he makes a romantic figure. In Olivia’s opinion Jack is too ‘nice’ to be a murderer, although as the book develops it becomes clear that he has a strong motive to have killed at least one of the victims in the shooting.
At first, Jack appears to have bumbled into a set up and been framed for the crime. Olivia gets him freed from jail and sets about preparing to defend him to the best of her ability, although eventually Olivia (and the reader) start to wonder if Jack is playing her.
The Ex taught me something else. Apparently there are women who chase police officers, in a rock-star groupie way, and are known as ‘Badge Bunnies.’ Who would have thought?
By the end of The Ex, I felt much more sympathetic towards Olivia and Jack seemed like someone I would feel sorry for, rather than a romantic figure. I figured out the twist in the tale before the end of The Ex, but sat up much too late reading until the end anyway. If you’re a fan of courtroom drama-suspense stories The Ex is probably for you.