Expecting to attend a boring reception at the NYU law school, Manhattan ADA Alexandra Cooper finds herself morbidly spellbound as a scene right out of pages of an Edgar Allan Poe novel unfolds in front of her. Workers demolishing the basement wall of a nineteenth-century brownstone that was briefly Poeís abode and is currently destined to become part of the law school, not only discover historic artifacts but also the skeleton of a young woman buried alive and upright. Coming at a time when the Silk Stocking Rapist makes an unexpected comeback, Alex finds herself under a lot of pressure from her boss, the press, and the public to solve the cases ASAP.
Bandying lighthearted insults and quips while betting on Jeopardy! questions to offset their grisly investigations, Alex, fellow Sex Crimes colleague Mercer Wallace, and the irreverent Detective Mike Chapman try to piece together the meager clues in these two very different cases. Their investigation takes them from the high-class environs of the affluent Upper East Side that is the Rapistís comfort zone to the little-known but beautiful Bronx Botanical Gardens with its surprising connection to Poe. Even as the body count increases, it becomes clear that these cases are related and the common link is Poe himself. Proving it and catching the killer creates a highly suspenseful and perilous task for Alex and her cohorts.
In her seventh thrilling book starring the outspoken Alex Cooper, Linda Fairstein once again brings a degree of unparalleled authenticity to her central character, something easily attributable to Fairsteinís own 25 years of personal experience as chief prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Sex Crimes Unit. Juggling minute puzzle pieces of the varied cases with a skill that comes of long practice, Fairstein sweeps readers along on a thrilling ride of discovery, tying past and present together so as to present the audience with the gradually emerging picture of a murderer in the making.
Brief but pertinent glimpses into the lives and loves of her main returning characters adds a depth to them that spills over into the tale itself. As always, the tense tale progresses simultaneously and methodically on various fronts and remains convincing in spite of some leaps of faith. The closeness between Alex, Mercer and Chapman that comes from long interaction is as intact as ever, although a surprising nascent twist appears toward the end. As in the normal course of Fairsteinís novels, during the course of the investigation readers are enlightened with esoteric information about the city of New York. As an added bonus, by the end of this novel readers will also end up with a considerable knowledge of Poe, his life, and his works, no matter how obscure or squalid. Fairsteinís novels always promise a great deal and deliver. And so is the case with this great read.