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The Deadhouse [Mass Market Paperback]

Linda Fairstein
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 2003
Assistant D.A. Alexandra Cooper is back -- in this page-turning New York Times bestseller from legendary Manhattan sex-crimes prosecutor Linda Fairstein.
On Roosevelt Island, a strip of land in New York City's East River, stands an abandoned 19th century smallpox asylum, "The Deadhouse," where the afflicted were shipped off to die. It's a gruesome bit of history perhaps best forgotten. But for Alexandra Cooper, it may be the key to a shocking murder that cuts deeper than the arctic cold front gripping the city. A respected university professor is dead -- strangled and dumped in an elevator shaft. And while the school does damage control for anxious parents, Cooper and her close detective friend Mike Chapman scramble for answers, fueled by the most daunting discovery: a piece of paper, found on the lifeless body of Professor Lola Dakota, that reads The Deadhouse....

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From Amazon

Smart, sexy, Manhattan assistant DA Alexandra Cooper--hero of Linda Fairstein's increasingly popular series--is taking her latest murder case very personally. Lola Dakota, abused wife and brilliant university professor, wouldn't cooperate when Cooper wanted to charge her ex-husband with assault. So when she's murdered, he's the logical suspect--except that he had been arrested just before the murder. So Alex needs another suspect.

Unable to protect Lola alive, Alex is determined to find the killer and bring him to justice. All she has to go on is a scrap of paper in the murdered woman's pocket with the words "The Deadhouse" on it, along with a series of numbers. Deciphering the clue leads Alex and Mike Chapman, her favorite homicide cop, to an abandoned gothic hospital on New York's Roosevelt Island, where smallpox victims went to die a century ago. Because of its history, the Deadhouse held a special attraction for Lola and for several of her university colleagues; and, as it turns out, almost all these deftly drawn minor characters had a reason to want Lola dead. Illuminating their personalities and motives gives Fairstein an opportunity to skewer the academic infighting that goes on at an elite Ivy League school.

The author's background as head of the New York district attorney's Sex Crime Unit is just one of the many assets she brings to her fast-paced, intricately plotted thrillers. What makes this one a standout is the wealth of historical detail about 19th-century New York, which adds an extra dimension of verisimilitude to an engrossing, atmospheric, and suspenseful read. --Jane Adams --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

When archeologist Lola Dakota is found dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft in her apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side, assistant D.A. Alexandra Cooper takes on one of her darkest cases yet in this compelling mystery from bestseller Fairstein (Final Jeopardy). Alexandra, aided by homicide detective Mike Chapman, must sift through the testimonies of Dakota's close-mouthed colleagues at small, experimental King's College. Despite bitter December weather, the professor was engaged in an archaeological dig on the city's Roosevelt Island for clues about the criminals and mental patients shipped there a hundred years ago and left to die. Cooper, who had been working with Dakota to apprehend her abusive husband, now reaches out to Lola's resistant family and legal counsel in New Jersey, where she has been hiding out. And what of Charlotte Voight, a young woman who disappeared several months ago? The city is ablaze with holiday lights and cheer, Mike is acting peculiarly, team member Mercer Wallace injured in Final Jeopardy rejoins them late in the game, and Alex and new love Jake, a news correspondent, might be breaking up. Fairstein weaves present and past woes to good effect, while her focus on Roosevelt Island will intrigue New Yorkers who know little about its shameful former uses. A somewhat abrupt resolution, as well as a few loose strands, will leave the reader eager for a later date with the D.A. (Oct. 2)Forecast: Several factors will recommend this book to a broad audience: Manhattan D.A. Fairstein bears the mark of authenticity; all three previous titles in the series were bestsellers; and Linda Fairstein's Final Jeopardy was an ABC-TV Movie of the Week in April. A six-city author tour and two floor displays will further boost sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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It was hard not to smile as I watched Lola Dakota die. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Alex Cooper is a clever but vulnerable heroine April 1 2004
By Tin Man
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book wastes no time in setting out some very juicy bait. Shortly after faking her own death as part of a sting operation planned by law enforcement types on the Jersey side of the river, political science professor Lola Dakota is found doing an excellent job of not faking her death --- having been squished by an elevator in her Manhattan apartment building after first having been strangled. By the time you finish the first chapter, the hook is set, and author Fairstein is reeling you in like a trout. Don't fight it.
Cooper and Chapman are equals in intellect, but whenever Cooper gets knocked to the ground, Chapman is there to pick her up and dust her off. It would have been far more satisfying if just once Cooper hauled off and smacked somebody. Given some of the lowlifes Ms. Fairstein has sent up the river, I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were occasions when she felt like bypassing the legal system altogether and just opening up a jumbo can o' whoop-ass. I can't think of a better way to relieve the kind of professional stress that must surely be a part of Ms. Fairstein's life than letting her fictional alter ego dish out a little pay-back.
But then that wouldn't really be in character for Cooper. In this team, she supplies the glitz, and Chapman, the grit. In the end it's not that Cooper is a thinly-drawn character, it's that she's a subtle string quartet competing for the reader's attention with a supporting cast that's as hard to ignore as an under-rehearsed marching band --- and just as much fun. So even if she is quiet and cultured, even if she has a weekend place on Martha's Vineyard and a network news dude for a boyfriend, Cooper gets the job done, and in a fine and entertaining fashion.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Endless and Unfocused June 9 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm a Fairstein fan, having loved her first and third books (and having found the second not quite up to par), but "The Deadhouse" is pretty much D.O.A. Extremely convoluted and even confusing at times, it rambles on and on...and gets nowhere. Huge clues (like shoe boxes full of cash) are dropped into the story and then ignored by our heroine Alexandra Cooper and her wise-cracking sidekick, Det. Chapman. The plot twist that propels this tired tale to its conclusion doesn't pop up until page 300 of the paperback addition, and by that time you probably won't give a hoot whodunit or why. (Besides, it's patently absurd.) I did find the historical information on Blackwell's Island fascinating (hence the two stars), but again, Fairstein has no idea what to do with it. And isn't it strange that in four books, we've never met anyone in Alex's family? The poor woman seems to spend every holiday alone! Worst of all, the "thing" that the murderer is killing everyone to get his/her hands on is never even found. Whatever happened to a writer wrapping up her plotlines? Fairstein is capable of terse, linear story telling, but she's just not a good enough writer to handle the red-herring laden plot she's devised for herself.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great story, would have liked more history in it! Feb. 17 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Fairstein is a new author for me. I actually spotted the view of the smallpox hospital and that's what made me pick the book up. I have been researching hospitals and institutions, any place where deaf people could have been sent just for being deaf in the U.S. (from about 1850 through the 1940's). So I often come across pictures, photographs, etc. of these haunting places. This was obviously a fiction, but I enjoyed the information concerning these islands and their institutions in New York. Incredibly amazing on several fronts. First off, we sure take our freedoms for granted now...back then, no one had freedoms except the very wealthy and powerful. Even if they committed heinous crimes, they could live in fairly splendiforous means with lower class criminals providing slave labor. Second, it's incredible that so many of these places were architecturally magnificent. Did their architects even consider what these places were going to be used for? What was the purpose of making a place that beautiful, where people were sent to die of infectious diseases? Kind of odd if you ask me!
I enjoyed the books protoganist, Alex Cooper, though I get a bit uncomfortable with stories having to do with sexual crimes if it is overdone as a means to sell books. I don't think Fairstein is guilty of this and I will most probably pick up another one of her books, because I liked this one. I enjoyed the sense of friendship between Cooper and the cop...they truly enjoy one another's company purely as friends, and they complement each others strengths and weaknesses. I've had a couple of friends like that, both at work and in my interpreters, so I am pleased to see it written about well in a book.
The story concerning a woman who dies, even after gaining protection from her abusive husband, is very complex.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting plot but not much else Nov. 22 2002
By A. Lord
Format:Hardcover
As is standard with Fairstein novels, The Deadhouse has an interesting plot/mystery but Fairstein's poor writing detracts from the novel. Read this for the mystery-but don't expect anything else.
The main focus of The Deadhouse revolves around the murder of a professor, Lola Dakota. Setting this in academia could have provided Fairstein with a lot to write about and rich characters to explore. Unfortunately (and I say this as a former academic), Fairstein seems to be completely clueless about how universities really function-and how divided academic disciplines are. Even at an experimental school, very few professors work across disciplines. As a medical historian, I was also insulted by Fairstein's bizarre assumption that an archeological dig would include a political scientist and a biologist. Historians and anthropologists would slit their throats before they allowed people with such different approaches to walk near an archeological site. Academic politics are characterized by a surreal number of turf battles (ironically, these battles-among people who essentially do the same thing-would have provided a much more interesting backdrop for the novel).
Along the way, various different sex crimes occur and one gets a glimpse into the problems and issues which confront D.A.s working on sex crimes. This is always the most interesting part of Fairstein's novels and I would have preferred it if she followed several of these stories all the way through.
I also have a peeve with Alexandra. She is perfect-perfectly bland-and I find myself annoyed by the fact that Fairstein always likes to keep her at the "perfect" age for a single woman-36. Why can't she age? Why is she always virtuously eating salads? Why does Jake like her? There is nothing real about this woman.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Law Mystery
The author and her protagonist, Alexandra Cooper, have some things in common - same job (head of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office), same... Read more
Published on Sept. 25 2004 by Ez
1.0 out of 5 stars silly & boring
Having never read anything by this author I picked up this book after seeing her interviewed on TV. I love good mysteries, especially the British police porcedurals, and thought... Read more
Published on Oct. 26 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars New York history + mystery
I love a good mystery...and when it is immersed with bits of history of New York City, I love it even more. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2003 by Karen Kirsch
1.0 out of 5 stars This is what I picture a cheesy romance novel to be like....
....but under the guise of a murder mystery. What a bore, I was so disappointed. I am not usually one who reads crime fiction, but for some reason the backdrop setting of the... Read more
Published on Sept. 9 2003 by Christina M. Reigle
2.0 out of 5 stars Drags
Note that this tome is 500 pages. It's consequently filled with shopping trips, sending out Christmas gifts to family, parties, etc., adding nothing to the plot development. Read more
Published on Sept. 3 2003 by Bruce Burns
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I am a big fan of Linda Fairstein's Alex Cooper series, and I loved the first three books. The Deadhouse was a major disappointment, though. Read more
Published on July 25 2003 by Amy
1.0 out of 5 stars DEAD IS RIGHT!!
With L. Fairstein's 25 years as head of the New York district attorney's Sex Crime Unit, I expected a more intelligent, facetious, gritty, in-depth, realistic story. Read more
Published on April 23 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars more heart, less description
hmmmm have just finished it - started out promisingly, got a bit slow in the middle then went on to finish somewhat implausibly! Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2003 by "rubymajik"
3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting History Lesson
This was my first Linda Fairstein novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the history of Roosevelt Island presented in the novel, but was bored with the story and characters. Read more
Published on Dec 4 2002
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