Friday, June 03, 2011
Silent Mercy by Linda Fairstein
Assistant D.A. Alexander Cooper and Detective Mike Chapman show up at Mount Neboh Baptist Church to find the church on fire, and a woman's body without a head. What makes this an Alex Cooper case? Mike sums it up beautifully. "Naked cadaver dumped in a public place. Headless. I gotta think sexual assault, I gotta think torture, I gotta think mutilation again...And I gotta think possible hate crime 'cause the perp picked a religious institution for the drop. Sex crimes, torture, hate - it's got Alex Cooper written all over it."
It's just what Alex needs to take her mind off another case involving a church. Her office is in the middle of a trial in which they're prosecuting a priest accused of sexual abuse against a boy. And, she's not too happy to be ordered off that particular trial when she seems to be pressing the Bishop too hard. Instead, she'll work on this investigation, since another body turns up, again at a church. And, it isn't long before the investigation leads to the possibility that another woman will be killed. Is it religious beliefs that led to the murders, or is something else at play? Despite efforts to pull her and Mike off the case, because of "appearances," nothing can stop the determined team from trying to find a killer and prevent another death.
I've always admired Linda Fairstein's handling of Alex Cooper's career. Although she may be immersed in an investigation, her job goes on, and she still has to deal with the day-to-day operation of her office. There are other cases, other investigations, and she has to stay in the loop, continuing to work with and advise her staff and other attorneys. Fairstein's books are outstanding for the manner in which she handles the highlighted mystery, and also for the manner in which she handles Cooper's job. And, she brings to light the unknown story of New York City landmarks. Along with other stories in this book, she points out the history of Harlem churches that were once synagogues. In the early twentieth century, Harlem's population was mostly Jewish, rich and powerful. When they moved out, the synagogues served new faiths and new congregations. It's part of the transition the city goes through.
In Silent Mercy, Fairstein finds an unusual way to twist the story. Without dwelling on details that would give too much away, I just want to say it's another solid entertaining and educational mystery from a reliable author.
Linda Fairstein's website is www.lindafairstein.com
Silent Mercy by Linda Fairstein. Dutton. ©2011. ISBN 9780525952022 (hardcover). 387p.
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