Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review of Hell Gate by Linda Fairstein

From South Florida Sun-Sentinel --

Mystery review: 'Hell Gate' by Linda Fairstein --

By Oline H. Cogdill --
March 21, 2010 --

Hell Gate. Linda Fairstein. Dutton. $26.95. 416 pp.

In each of Linda Fairstein's legal thrillers, the author gracefully melds New York City's hidden spots and history into a contemporary novel, showing how little has changed in crime and the ways people treat each other.

This theme is well-served in Fairstein's 12th novel featuring New York City Assistant District Attorney Alex Cooper, who specializes in sex crimes. A top-notch plot and realistic situations make "Hell Gate" a first-class tale of New York and the people who built it and now control it.

Politics, sexual trafficking – age-old issues that never go away -- and New York's historical, tax-supported mansions provide a sturdy foundation for "Hell Gate."

Cooper is called to the scene of a rusted freighter that has run aground on a sandbar near Rockaway Beach. The captain has abandoned his vessel, which is loaded with human cargo from Ukraine, including many young women being forced into sexual slavery. The cops also are dealing with Congressman Ethan Leighton whose rising career may be on the skids after he fled the scene of a car accident to cover up an extramarital affair.

Fairstein balances glimpses of New York City history that parallel the contemporary events of "Hell Gate." The horrific importing of young women later forced into prostitution seems ripped from the headlines, but the practice is centuries-old. The 21st century didn't spawn politicians cheating on their wives or denying parenthood, nor are politicial corruption and slush funds modern inventions. All that's changed, Fairstein shows, is the way these events unfurl.

Each outing with Alex brings new insight, and Fairstein is careful not to make her 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.

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