One of the special pleasures of this lively series, written by a veteran sex-crimes investigator for the Manhattan district attorney's office, is the unusual glimpse it gives readers into corners of New York no tourist and few residents ever see (The Deadhouse
). Here she turns her attention to the city's major cultural edifices--the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and the Cloisters--and takes us behind their sealed doors to investigate the murder of a museum curator whose mummified body turns up in an ancient sarcophagus just before it's shipped out of the country. Together with her partners, cops Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, assistant DA Alexandra Cooper retraces Katrina Grooten's steps from her native South Africa to the discovery of her remains on a New Jersey pier. Along the way, the mysteries of the ancient world get equal billing with the more contemporary whodunit, and Cooper and her pals get a firsthand look at the murderous New York art world, too. Fairstein's thrillers offer an in-depth tour of truly off-the-beaten-path Manhattan as well as solid plotting, well-drawn characters, and snappy dialogue. What the DA's office lost when the author retired to write full-time is the mystery fan's biggest gain! --Jane Adams
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From Publishers Weekly
Fairstein's 25-year stint as head of the Sex Crimes Unit in the Manhattan DA's office once again makes for an authoritative and fact-filled mystery (her fifth after The Deadhouse) featuring alter-ego assistant DA Alexandra Cooper. "Coop" is an attractive workaholic in her 30s, ambivalent about her current relationship with an always-on-the-road NBC correspondent. While she's attending a reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, new Met director Pierre Thibodaux pulls her aside and asks for help with a recent crisis: a customs security dog found that a Met sarcophagus ready for shipment back to Cairo contained the corpse of a young female researcher from the Cloisters, the Met's medieval branch. Coop calls her usual NYPD sidekick detectives, brash Mike Chapman and burly Mercer Wallace, and the trio sets out to search among the museum's bookish staff and rich benefactors for a killer with a motive. In the meantime, Coop and Chapman, who should be a couple but don't know it yet, lecture one another on ancient history and contemporary law, and place bets on Jeopardy questions. Readers also learn about such subjects as Inuit funeral rituals, the average growth rate for human hair, the habits of stalkers and rapists and modern techniques of sadomasochism. Fairstein has a heavy-handed way of working this information into the dialogue, and the plot resolution strains credibility. Yet the quick-witted Cooper is as likable as ever, and fans of Fairstein's other books will find this satisfying-if not standout-fare.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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