Harper Collins, $26.99, 352 pages, ISBN 978-0-06-220838-5
In the argot of the penitentiary—prison slang—an inmate saying that he’s “got all day” means that he’s serving a life sentence. The term “all day and a night” means a life sentence without the possibility of parole, also referred to as life without and sometimes as LWOP. I know these terms because I just finished reading, at the expense of all other activities planned for this winter Monday, All Day and A Night, by Alafair Burke.
Published to rave reviews by the likes of Karin Slaughter, Michael Connelly, Megan Abbott and Ivy Pachoda, All Day and A Night is the story of a convicted serial killers attempt to overturn his sentence when an eerily similar murder takes place with the same broken bone method he was found guilty of using. The celebrity murder of a Park Slope psychotherapist prompts dual investigations by an aggressive celebrity defense lawyer—who enlists the aid of Park Avenue Corporate attorney Carrie Blank, whose sister Donna was one of serial killer Anthony Amaro’s victims—and NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher who, along with her partner J.J. Rogan, is tasked with a “fresh look” investigation into the police work that led to Amaro’s sentence and incarceration. There’s suspicion all around as Hatcher wonders if she was picked for the job because of her relationship with the lead prosecutor. Rogan distrusts the motivation and character of the defense team in general; Carrie Blank thinks at first that the cops may have manufactured some of the evidence used to convict Amaro, but later has doubts about that, and her client, and the grandstanding, publicity hungry and abrasive criminal defense attorney who recruited her as well. The novel is fast-paced, with new revelations coming in every chapter as Ms. Burke weaves all the disparate elements into the whole cloth of a classic thriller so artfully done that the reader feels like they’re riding shotgun in the unmarked police car. All Day and A Night is the third of Alafair Burke’s novels I’ve read and it’s her best by far, and more than lives up to the ‘whip-smart’ comment another writer left about it. I was captivated, fully invested and enjoyed every page.