Sunday, March 08, 2015

From the Archives: Mini Reviews from 2006 of Linda Fairstein's Alexandra Cooper Series

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. The first half of 2006 seemed to be my time for series reading.  I read quite a few books by Linda Fairstein during that time.  Here are some of my reviews from 2006:

Likely to Die (Alexander Cooper, #2) by Linda Fairstein 
Pocket Books, 1997
Crime Fiction; 448 pgs

It has been years since I read the first book in the series, Final Jeopardy, and it was past time I picked up the second book. Although the details of the first book are fuzzy after all this time, I do remember that it took a while for the book to take off and that certainly was true for Likely to Die as well. The story moved along slowly up until about the midway point and then suddenly it took off from there. Alexandra Cooper, a sex crimes prosecutor in New York City, is called to the scene of a brutal murder where it appears the victim, a top neurosurgeon, has been raped and stabbed to death. Alex’s character at times comes across as being over confident. Although her vulnerabilities are alluded to, they don’t really come across in this novel (with the exception of her love life). Because of that, Alex hasn’t yet won a place in my heart as so many of my favorite protagonists are able to do. I’m not sure how I feel about Ms. Fairstein’s character, Detective Mike Chapman. He can be annoying in that his jokes and cockiness get tiring after awhile. Detective Mercer Wallace was perhaps my favorite of the trio; he seemed down to earth and an easy-to-like sort of man. I’ve always been fascinated by the workings of a crime investigation and that perhaps held my interest the most in this novel, Likely to Die. The author herself stood in the shoes of her main character and she definitely knows the ins and outs of the job. There is no doubt I will continue to read more of this series. At this point, I am hopeful the characters will grow on me and I am sure the stories themselves will continue to entertain me.

Cold Hit (Alexander Cooper, #3) by Linda Fairstein 
Pocket Books, 1999
Crime Fiction; 464 pgs

Assistant D.A. Alex Cooper is joined by her partners in crime fighting, Detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, in discovering who murdered and raped a wealthy art dealer. The plot thickens as the novel progresses, and Alex definitely has her work cut out for her as she begins to untangle the complex web of the crime. Ms. Fairstein continues to show off her knowledge and expertise as a true-life sex crimes prosecutor. The side stories she adds to her novel are just as interesting, and sometimes more so, than the main story. Compared to the first two books in the series, Cold Hit was more gripping, and I had no trouble being pulled into the story right away.

The Deadhouse (Alexander Cooper, #4) by Linda Fairstein 
Pocket Books, 2001 
Crime Fiction; 528 pgs 

 Prosecutor Alexandra Cooper tried to help Professor Lola Dakota get away from an abusive husband, however, Dr. Dakota’s plans didn’t match up with Alex’s. Suddenly, Dr. Dakota ends up dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft. Was it her abusive husband who had hired someone to kill her or perhaps someone who worked with her at the university? Alex is determined to find out along with the help of her long time friend Detective Mike Chapman. The Deadhouse was an interesting read in part because of the focus on Roosevelt Island and its history. Any mention of one of my favorite women in history, Nellie Bly, is sure to earn some points in my book. Linda Fairstein added more depth to her characters in this novel and I found myself liking them more. I enjoyed the story, finding it entertaining and suspenseful towards the end. 

The Bone Vault (Alexander Cooper, #5) by Linda Fairstein 
Pocket Star Books, 2003 
Crime Fiction, 528 pgs 

Linda Fairstein puts her characters in the middle of the murder investigation involving a young museum employee whose body turns up in an Egyptian sarcophagus. Readers are taken into the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History as Prosecutor Alexandra Cooper, Detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace unravel their latest case. The Bone Vault, the 5th book in the series, was by far the best of the series yet. I was captivated from the very first. I was reminded of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s novels set in the Museum of Natural History as I read this novel and that made the setting seem even more familiar. I was very interested in the history of the museums and their evolution into what they are today. The mystery itself was enjoyable, and I was glad to see that Ms. Fairstein stepped away from the pattern that had been established in many of her previous books by way of how the story unfolds. Maybe this time Alex will be able to actually prosecute one of these big cases instead of acting as a witness! 

In The Bone Vault, as a side story, Ms. Fairstein also took on the difficult subject of September 11, 2001. Many of the mystery series I read have dealt subtly with the events on 9/11, but Ms. Fairstein takes in head on, most likely because her series is set in the very city—and just down the street practically from where the Twin Towers once stood. She pulled no punches and it made for a better book. A side of the annoying jokester, Mike Chapman’s character was shown which endeared him to me just a tad more. I couldn’t get past that particular section of the book without my eyes tearing up. I had a hard time putting The Bone Vault down each time I picked it up. The series is well worth reading just to get to this book.

The Kills (Alexander Cooper, #6) by Linda Fairstein
Pocket Star, 2004
Crime Fiction; 463 pgs

I read an interview recently with Linda Fairstein where she talks about her fans wanting to know more about Mike Chapman on a personal level.  She mentioned that she took that to heart and readers see more of a personal side of him beginning in The Deadhouse.  I think that was the turning point for me and the characters, especially Mike’s character, and that continues to hold true through The Kills.

The Kills opens with prosecutor Alexandra Cooper in the courtroom, about to start the trial of a man accused of raping a woman.  The case is weak at best, and Alex has her hands full trying to keep her case from falling apart.  There are a lot of loose ends that just don't add up and when her key witness in the case is found murdered, Alex and her team of detectives, Wallace Mercer and Mike Chapman, are even more determined to unravel the mystery before them.  With a touch of intrigue, multi-jurisdictional involvement by the FBI, CIA, and the Secret Service, lawyers from all walks of life, coins, collectors, a mistress of a once powerful king, and shady dealings, The Kills is a fast-paced suspense novel that takes off running straight from the first page.  Linda Fairstein has definitely found her stride with the series and I am looking forward to reading the next installment.  

Entombed (Alexander Cooper, #7) by Linda Fairstein 
Pocket Star, 2005
Crime Fiction; 400 pgs

A skeleton is found entombed in the walls of a building where Edgar Allan Poe once lived; and the Silk Stocking Rapist seems to be back on the hunt.  It’s up to sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper and her two sidekicks, Homicide Detective Mike Chapman and Special Victims’ Detective Wallace Mercer, to get to the bottom of both mysteries before more victims pile up.  I enjoyed the way Ms. Fairstein interwove Edgar A. Poe’s life and literary works throughout the novel.  I learned a few tidbits about the famous man that I hadn’t known before.  Entombed was a fun read and at times emotionally charged due to events surrounding the characters personal lives.  I felt closer to them than I ever have before.  Ms. Fairstein continues to keep me entertained and engrossed in what has become one of my favorite series.

Death Dance (Alexander Cooper, #8) by Linda Fairstein
Pocket Books, 2006
Crime Fiction; 340 pgs

A famous ballerina disappears after her performance at the Met, opening doors that some would prefer remain closed as prosecutor Alexandra Cooper and detectives Chapman and Mercer begin their investigation.  Several people have a lot to lose as secrets are brought into the limelight namely in the name of greed and possibly fame.  As Alex and the NYPD try to uncover the truth behind the stage, Alex is also contending with the investigation of two Canadian women who are drugged and raped by a man they thought they could trust and a rapist in Riverside Park whose identity is discovered through questionable means.  She has her hands full in Death Dance.  The author takes readers behind the scenes of the theater world in New York, including glimpses into its history.  I enjoyed Ms. Fairstein’s latest Alex Cooper novel but not quite as much as I’ve enjoyed the last three.  I wasn’t drawn into the theater-related thread as much as I would have liked.  I was more eager to learn what was going on with the two side stories that the author had running.  Unfortunately, they didn’t get nearly enough word space.

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  1. I think I read the first book in this series a while back - a long while back. I never got back to it, but I've been intrigued by the New York bits that Linda Fairstein includes in the books. Long running series now. Perhaps one day I'll begin it again. Nice reviews.

    1. Kay - I wasn't that impressed with the first book, but I have enjoyed the series more and more as it's gone on. My favorite parts are definitely the historical tidbits the author shares about New York.

  2. I love Alex, Mike and Mercer. I always enjoy the history of NY that she puts into her books too.

    1. Nise' - I go back and forth on Mike. He's definitely not a favorite character of mine. I do really like Mercer though. I love how she weaves history about New York landmarks into her stories too.

  3. I don't think I've read anything by Linda Fairstein. I may have to try out one of her books one day. :)

    1. Melody - I don't think I would count this series as a favorite, but I do enjoy the books. There's something about them that keeps me coming back. :-) If you do decide to give the series a try, I hope you like it!

  4. I loved the first books, but haven't like the latest ones nearly as much. One thing I always enjoy is her ability to incorporate the history of so many interesting NY landmarks. Some of which are well known, but others are less familiar and just as interesting.

    1. Jenclair - It's funny you say that because the series has gotten better for me the more I read (although the last one wasn't as good). I wasn't as taken with the earlier books. The history aspect is the main draw for me to this series--although I also really like the side stories she adds about other cases being worked on either by her or her coworkers.

  5. Loving the cover of The bone Vault but then I love gargoyles.

  6. I've never tried this author I don't think, but it's nice to be introduced to her and read your reviews of her works, and in particular The Bone Vault sounds very good.

    1. Lindsay - You do have to suspend your disbelief, but it's a fun series.

  7. I think I've picked up one or two of her books over the years but I don't think I've ever read any. This series looks like a lot of fun. I like the addition of history into it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Katherine - It is a fun series, although I'll warn you know that Alex falls into the TSTL category a few times throughout the series, putting herself in dangerous situations without telling anyone what she's up to.


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