Alafair Burke is the New York Times, Edgar Award nominated author of twenty crime novels. Published in more than twenty languages, her books have been featured on “Best Book” lists from the Today Show, Entertainment Weekly, People, O (Oprah Magazine), The Boston Globe, Washington Post, Sun Sentinel, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and numerous other outlets.
She has been called “a genius for plot” and “one of our greatest contemporary mystery writers.” She is the current President of Mystery Writers of America and the first woman of color to be elected to that position.
In addition to the standalone novels that have earned her a reputation as “a virtuoso” of domestic suspense, she authors “two power house series” featuring NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher and Portland Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid. In addition to her own work, Alafair also co-authored the “Under Suspicion” series with Queen of Suspense Mary Higgins Clark.
Alafair traces a lifelong fascination with crime to the fact that she grew up in Wichita, Kansas, where a serial killer was active during her formative years.
In a world where the killer could be anyone, Alafair found comfort in crime fiction. Her mother, a school librarian, helped her navigate from Encyclopedia Brown to Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie and eventually to Sue Grafton.
Her interest in crime led her to a career in the justice system. After graduating from Reed College and Stanford Law School and clerking for a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Alafair served as a Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon, where she specialized in domestic violence offenses and also served as a liaison to the police department. Alafair decided to write a novel when she realized that her own job was fertile ground for crime fiction.
Alafair remains a tenured member of the faculty at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, where she teaches criminal law and procedure. Her legal scholarship focuses on the discretionary decisions of prosecutors and police, and she frequently serves as a legal commentator for various media outlets.
Alafair is often asked about the origin of her name, especially by readers who are familiar with the fictional character, Alafair Robicheaux, created by her father (author James Lee Burke). Alafair was named for her father’s maternal grandmother. It was a more common name in the United States, particularly the south, at the turn of the twentieth century. Now it is a name that belongs to her, two of her cousins, and, from what she can find on Google, ten cats, two dogs, an alpaca, boat, and at least one very cute little girl.
She lives in New York City and East Hampton with her husband and two dogs, Double and Frannie.