Death Dance Audio Cassette – May 2006
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|Audio Cassette, May 2006||
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From Publishers Weekly
The dramatic talents of Blair Brown, widely displayed on stage, film and television, add some important depth and energy to this generally shrewdly abridged audio version of Fairstein's latest. Brown catches the feisty wisdom of Alexandra Cooper, Manhattan's assistant DA in charge of the sex crimes prosecution unit (a job Fairstein herself had for 25 years before turning to writing full time), and also brings to sharply edged life Cooper's old colleagues, crime scene investigators Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace. Particularly interesting are Brown's takes on denizens of New York's Metropolitan Opera—a manipulative agent, a strange producer and his troubled niece, an ambiguously motivated artistic director—as Cooper and her team investigate the murder of a leading Russian ballerina found dead in one of the Met's cooling units. Other plots (a rape involving an elusive Turkish doctor and an unsolved urban assault case) sometimes seem a bit tacked on and confusing—perhaps a result of the abridgment. But bestseller Fairstein's growing band of enthusiasts should have few complaints—especially if they love opera as much as the law.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Fairstein brings her considerable experience in the law--she served as the chief prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office Sex Crimes Unit for 25 years--to her richly detailed legal thrillers. Her series heroine, Alexandra Cooper, is a clone of Fairstein, an assistant district attorney and sex crimes prosecutor with the Manhattan DA's Office. The closeness of character to author works superbly in this series, as it does in Dick Francis' horse-racing thrillers. In this eighth outing for Cooper, Fairstein gives readers insiders' access to two worlds: the pretrial investigations of prosecutors working with homicide detectives and the inner workings of New York's theater world, especially the backstage area of Lincoln Center. A world-famous ballerina has disappeared from Lincoln Center's Metropolitan Opera House during a performance. Cooper teams up with two homicide detectives, laying bare the rough world of professional theater--not everything is beautiful at the ballet. At the same time, Fairstein investigates a sexual-assault case in which a doctor drugs his victims, using a particularly chilling MO. Fairstein's exploration of contemporary DFSA (drug-facilitated sexual assault) and the legal intricacies of DNA data banks proves fascinating. The latest Cooper delivers what has made this series so good: solid legal, procedural, and forensic detail surrounding an intriguing case. The book's added punch comes from Fairstein's Phantom of the Opera-like re-creations of the labyrinthine environs of the Met, beneath and behind the stage. A great read. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A series of minor problems plagued the plot, as well. The tension between Alex and Mike had unrealized potential, which may or may not be explored in future installments of Alex Cooper stories. Furthermore, two other cases Alex worked on throughout the novel barely related to the major investigation in the book. Some readers will notice other, smaller sticking points in the plot.
As the protagonist, Alex was weakened by her perpetual fly-on-the-wall status. Her lack of action in response to a judge's blatant sexism, other than to get her case before another judge, made her look whiny and ineffectual. Reinforcing the image are the many scenes during the investigation where Alex does little more than observe, while the detectives do most of the talking.
One redeeming factor is Fairstein's in-depth look at life on New York stages, and her knowledge of architectural history. The other redeeming factor is that, in the end, the reader has most of their questions answered.
If you enjoyed Fairstein's previous work, it's worth a read. Otherwise, you may prefer another title.
There are issues that keep attorneys employed. Besides the usual crimes, there is a family feud over inheritances, and the question of trusts and possible tax evasion (or maybe just creative tax avoidance). Money is power, and some people are willing to use connections.
You will learn a lot about the New York theater business, and the backstage areas. There are also some historical vignettes that I personally found interesting, but some people may think there is overly much background color.
I would note that there are some interesting discussions of the use of DNA and other forensic science. There are also legal issues about obtaining evidence, and what constitutes invasion of privacy.
The plot of the novel is complex, and requires that you pay attention. It is not a quick read.
- Interesting insight into the current and past history of the NY theater world
- A relatively fast paced story
- A quick read
- Too many characters, some of which are not well detailed. You may lose tract of who's who
- Weak murder mystery. The central plot of the story appeared to be completely secondary to the exploration of the NY theater scene.
- Too much detail on Mike Chapman's mourning his dead love. His extended period of public despair seems inconsistent with the character developed in earlier books.
- Why is Mercer socializing with Mike and Alex late at night after work when he has a new baby at home? His wife should kill him! Oh, that may be the next version in the series.
- Weird ending. 'nuf said.
I did give it three stars because overall, it was a quick bit of entertainment, and to give it fewer stars would be unfair. It was average.
While I do not want to give away the complete plotline, let me just say that the book treats the reader to a descriptive behind a scenes tour of the Met as well as a couple of other famous New York theaters; gives us a history lesson about the famous and infamous residents of the city, both past and present, supplies lessons in forensics and police procedures and finally allows an exasperating glimpse at the practice of releasing non-citizens on their own recognizance with the naive expectation that they will return for trial and not flee the jurisdiction. (Are we stupid, or what??)
This book captures the readers attention from page one, twists and turns its way through 482 undeniably intriguing pages and deposits us at the end of a devilishly good story, satiated for the moment but definitely looking forward to another delectable helping of Linda Fairstein. Take her along on your next lazy afternoon at the beach or better yet on a long, tedious plane ride. You won't regret allowing her to join you.....she makes flying fun.
The main suspects are Joe Berk, a fabulously wealthy theater mogul, his son and niece, Briggs and Mona, a director named Chet Dobbis, and Natalya's patron, Hubert Alden. Nor can detectives Mercer Wallace and Mike Chapman, who are investigating the case along with Alex, rule out the possibility that the perp may be one of the hundreds of stagehands, carpenters, or other behind-the-scenes workers who populate the Met. After attempts are made on the lives of other victims, the police redouble their efforts to find the killer.
Alex Cooper is, as always, a dedicated and brilliant prosecutor, and her friendship with Mike Chapman continues to be one of the most important constants in her life. Unfortunately, she has been unable to coax Mike out of the depression that brought him low after the death of his girlfriend, Val. He is still grieving and shows few signs of being able to move on with his life. Still, Alex, Mercer, and Mike are a delightful modern-day version of the Three Musketeers. Together, they interview suspects, follow up promising leads, and pool their resources in an effort to make sense of all the evidence that each case generates.
Another given in Fairstein's books is that she researches some aspect of life in New York City and provides the reader with a mini-travel guide. This time, we are treated to a history of New York's theaters, with fascinating trivia about Lincoln Center, Broadway, and the many individuals who spend their lives either in front of or behind the footlights.
The problem with this novel, as well as with others in this series, is the thin plot. Fairstein has her protagonists interviewing the same suspects repeatedly, going over the same ground ad nauseam. The deceased woman, Natalya, never comes to life, nor do any of the suspects, all of whom are caricatures. The ending is a convoluted and far-fetched excuse to put Alex in danger while Mike and Mercer try to bail her out. If Fairstein were to plan her storylines as carefully as she researches New York lore, her novels would be far more compelling and memorable.