Sunday, March 1, 2009

NYC and its people star in 'Lethal Legacy' (Linda Fairstein)

From Pittsburgh Tribune-Review --

NYC and its people star in 'Lethal Legacy' --

By Oline H. Cogdill, McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE --
Sunday, March 1, 2009 --

A hallmark of Linda Fairstein's fine legal thrillers is the behind-the-scenes view of New York City that may be new to even those who think they are experts on the Big Apple. In "Lethal Legacy," Fairstein gives an insider's view of that most benign and sturdy of cultural institutions -- the New York Public Library.

From the catacombs beneath the building to hidden rooms and forgotten apartments, Fairstein imagines the library as a fairly spooky place where anything can happen. It takes more than just those two wonderful lions out front -- which, by the way, are named Patience and Fortitude -- to guard this New York stalwart, "the soul of the community."

But "Lethal Legacy" isn't just an armchair travel guide. Fairstein brings her A game to her 11th Alexandra Cooper novel with a top-notch plot, realistic situations and believable characters.

Alex, an assistant D.A. and sex-crimes prosecutor, is trying to help a rare-books restorer who may have been the victim of an assault. The investigation leads back to the viperous Minerva and Talbot Hunt, wealthy sister and brother bibliophiles whose hatred of each other is "as ugly as anything in Greek mythology."

Fairstein seamlessly weaves in ancient maps, manuscript restoration and rare books, illustrating that forensic science comes in many forms. Fairstein makes a trip to the library exciting and dangerous -- even if you just came for the books.

Each outing with Alex gives new insight to this character. The author is careful not to make Alex a super sleuth; she is a prosecutor whose job takes her behind the scenes of crimes but, as in real life, the detectives do the investigating. Alex's close friendship with the two detectives and their devotion to the final question of "Jeopardy" bring a texture to Fairstein's novels.

In a genre crowded with legal thrillers, Fairstein's affinity for telling stories of New York and its people stand out.

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