Friday, June 03, 2011

Silent Mercy by Linda Fairstein

Sometimes it's obvious why an author continues to appear on the bestseller lists. Silent Mercy might be Linda Fairstein's thirteenth novel, but the characters are just as strong, and the setting and mystery just as intriguing as in her first book. Fairstein's storytelling skills still suck in the reader. And, it doesn't hurt that I just returned from New York City, although most of the action in this book takes place in Harlem, and I wasn't near there on this trip.

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.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

10 comments:

Kay said...

I've read a few in this series, but I'm behind. This one sounds as good as ever though. I also love the fact that Linda Fairstein has introduced us to so much of New York.

Lesa said...

And, I've read some of them out of order, Kay, but, with this series, it's been OK. I've enjoyed the intro to NY as well.

Jody said...

I agree. This is a very good book. I've always liked the history Fairstein embeds in all the Alex Cooper books.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

The 13th book! That's fantastic that she's still got such strong characters and plot. I haven't read her books, so I'll have to check them out from the beginning...

Karen said...

I love Ms. Fairstein's Alex Cooper novels and I used to read them as soon as they came out. Since retiring, I'm a tad more frugal with my pennies and tend to wait a bit before buying. Darn it!

I only skimmed your review so I wouldn't know too much when I got to read it :o)

I'm originally from upstate NY and it's nice to mentally say, oh, yeah I know where that is ..

Gran said...

I'm so glad to read your review, and will be happy to read my copy when it comes up on the hold list!

Lesa said...

Thanks, Jody. I'm glad to know you enjoyed this as much as I did, particularly the history.

Lesa said...

You should, Elizabeth. If I remember correctly, the history isn't there in the first book, but the characters are quite interesting even then.

Lesa said...

I understand the need to save pennies, Karen. I hope you have a good public library near you though. You can always get it there.

Lesa said...

I hope you get it soon, Gran! But, it's worth waiting for. I had to wait, too.