Close Case (Samantha Kincaid #3) by Alafair Burke


“Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid likes to be where the action is: at the scene of a crime, at the arrest of a suspect, with the cops on the Major Crimes Team. But when street-smart, plugged-in reporter Percy Crenshaw is brutally murdered in the midst of pursuing a major story, Samantha knows the stakes are high. Within days, cops have a suspect; then a confession. Yet Samantha suspects that something is very wrong, and her concerns keep coming back to the police. The murdered reporter was romantically linked to a cop’s wife. And all of the cops she’s concerned about are close to her live-in boyfriend, Detective Chuck Forbes.

Forced to prosecute a case in which the defendant may be an innocent man, Samantha must tread carefully to uncover the truth about Percy’s murder – without tearing her career, her home life, and the city apart. But just when she thinks her job can’t get any more difficult, another more shocking crime comes to light.”

-Synopsis from back of the book


Cover of Close Case by Alafair Burke
Cover image from StoryGraph

*light spoilers ahead*

Close Case is the final book in the Samantha Kincaid trilogy. Samantha and her boyfriend Chuck Forbes have finally moved in together and are still navigating their relationship between work and home. As a couple they have had their differences in the past which has made me think they may not be the best fit for one another, but at the beginning of this story they are committed to trying to make things work.

The story kicks off with the murder Percy Crenshaw, an investigative reporter for the Oregonian. The murder takes place on the same night that protestors are demonstrating throughout the city after a white police officer killer a black woman during a routine traffic stop. Both of these cases take up the bulk of the story as they are treated separately at first, and then overlap later on.

One of the first major scenes, which becomes the catalyst for the rest of the story, involves Chuck and his partner Mike interrogating a suspect in Percy Crenshaw’s murder. The suspect, a teenager, was using drugs that night and has little memory of where he was or what he was doing. Mike jumps on this and forces a confession on him, effectively convincing the kid that he murdered Percy Crenshaw.

I will admit that this chapter was difficult to read. On the one hand, you want to think that this is just a fictional story and none of it is real. On the other hand, the interrogation was a little too realistic and knowing that similar situations do take place in real life is unsettling. It makes you think of all the innocent people who are affected by the convoluted way the justice system works. It was so disheartening that I almost didn’t want to continue reading.

I decided to stick with it because I like Samantha’s character. She was on the fence about Mike’s interrogation tactics and ultimately didn’t trust him. She works to prove the suspect’s innocence is a sort of roundabout way throughout the book.

I really got the sense of the push and pull Samantha was faced with as she tried to do her job as Deputy District Attorney and still keep the peace with Chuck and the other detectives. She wants to have it both ways but that proves to be more challenging than either she or Chuck expected. I hated that she put herself in that position, and I didn’t agree with all of her decisions. All of those layers only worked to make her seem more realistic, ultimately, and it made for a compelling read.

Interspersed with Samantha’s first-person perspective, we also get to see a third-person perspective of one of Percy Crenshaw’s fellow Oregonian reporters. The work that reporter does ends up blowing the murder, and the officer-involved shooting, wide open.

The ending of the story was bittersweet. I think that Samantha made the right decision regarding her personal life, and I felt that it was open-ended enough that I could see her moving forward in her career without feeling like it was too abrupt of an ending.

Next up I am hoping to dive into the Ellie Hatcher series!

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