Alafair S. Burke is an American crime novelist, professor of law, and legal commentator. She is the author of two series of crime novels—one featuring NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher; the other, Portland, Oregon, prosecutor Samantha Kincaid. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Burke was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and raised primarily in Wichita, Kansas, where her mother, Pearl Pai Chu, was a school librarian and her father, fellow crime novelist James Lee Burke, was a professor of English. She traces her fascination with crime to the hunt for the serial killer known as BTK, who was active in Wichita during the 1970s.
Burke received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, completing the Senior Thesis "Emotion's effects on memory: spatial narrowing of attention". She went on to Stanford Law School in California; and, after graduating with distinction, she served as a Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney in Portland. She prosecuted domestic violence offenses and served as an in-precinct advisor to the police department. She currently lives in New York City and is a Professor of Law at Hofstra University School of Law. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Mystery Writers of America and as President of its New York chapter.