Judgment Calls

Samantha Kincaid Mysteries

Alafair Burke

Henry Holt and Co.

A seemingly simple assault case spirals into a complex web of violence and deception in this bold debut thriller

Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid walks into her office in Portland’s Drug and Vice Division one Monday morning to find three police officers waiting for her. A thirteen-year-old girl has been brutally attacked and left for dead on the city’s outskirts. Given the lack of evidence, most lawyers would settle for an assault charge; Samantha, unnerved by the viciousness of the crime, decides to go for attempted murder. But as she prepares for the trial, she uncovers a dangerous trail leading to a high-profile death penalty case, a prostitution ring of underage girls, and a possible serial killer. And she finds her judgment—not only in matters of the law but in her personal life—called into question.

In Samantha Kincaid, Alafair Burke has created a complex, appealing character—a woman consumed by a sense of justice, who is also tough enough to take on a man’s world. Seamlessly juxtaposing courtroom scenes with those of criminal investigation, Judgment Calls reveals not only an insider’s knowledge of the criminal justice system but a fresh new voice in the world of crime writing.


Read an Excerpt

From Judgment Calls:

“I don’t mind taking the case, but here’s the problem: this case needs major help. The rape kit’s not back; the victim’s clothes are still at the lab. Derringer’s alibi needs work, and we don’t have the driver. If this case is filed as an Assault III, it’s outside MCT jurisdiction, and you know that precinct detectives aren’t going to do the follow up that’s needed.”

Garcia was a step ahead of me. “I’ll make another call to O’Donnell to explain that you’re willing to take


Praise for Judgment Calls

"This is a solid debut, and the publisher promises that we'll be hearing more from tough, tart, sexy, high-minded Samantha Kincaid." — Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post
"A solid first effort."
--Publishers Weekly
"This promising debut augurs well for a successful series."
"Burke...writes with both a clarity and a self-assuredness that belies her first-novelist status. The plot lines are tightly woven, and she adroitly ties things together in the end."
--Library Journal

In the Press

Fiction Review: JUDGMENT CALLS by Alafair Burke / Author . Holt $23 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7386-7

Burke's earnest, fast-paced debut introduces a sharp new crime series revolving around Deputy DA Samantha "Sam" Kincaid, a hip, 30ish lawyer working in Portland's Drug and Vice Divi

- Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Alafair Burke

  • A former deputy district attorney in Portland, Alafair Burke now teaches criminal law at Hofstra School of Law and lives in Long Island, New York. She is the daughter of acclaimed crime writer James Lee Burke.
  • Alafair Burke
    Alafair Burke





    Available Formats and Book Details

    Judgment Calls

    Samantha Kincaid Mysteries

    Alafair Burke

    • e-Book