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The Bone Vault Hardcover – Jan 21 2003

3.4 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (Jan. 21 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743223543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743223546
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.2 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 726 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,750,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Bone Vault" could have been a swell 250-page mystery. Unfortunately, it's a 500-page stew of red herrings, dead-end subplots and research, research, research.
This was my first time reading Linda Fairstein, so for all I know all of her books are like this, but "The Bone Vault" just seemed overstuffed. I'm sure Fairstein wanted to paint a realistic portrait of the hectic, never-ending schedule of a sex-crimes prosecutor. That is admirable, and much of it kept me turning the pages, but she just keeps piling it on. There's a stalker, backstabbing co-workers, a lying teen, an S&M tape, a weekend in Martha's Vineyard, reflections on Sept. 11 and various romantic yearnings. Yet none of it has anything to do with the main mystery at hand.
Speaking of the mystery, it didn't make much of an impression. Murder among the secret lairs of Manhattan's finest museums is an interesting concept, one that drew me to the book in the first place. And Fairstein obviously did a great deal of research, cramming the book with facts, tidbits and history until it's bursting at the binding. Even worse, most of it is relayed through clunky dialogue and exposition in the form of museum tours the characters take. Some of it is interesting, but a lot of it is as dry as a, well, bone.
Unfortunately, all of it manages to bury the mystery in historical dust and subplot rubble. The suspects are interchangeable, with blank characterizations and hazy motives. The suspense level hums along at relatively low wattage. And with all the frantic goings-on before it, the climax is disappointing.
Still, I liked Alex Cooper and her rapport with cop Mike Chapman. I liked learning new things about the museums I had spent so many hours roaming. And I even liked the breakneck pace of a majority of the subplots.
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Format: Hardcover
Spending time with Alex Cooper and Mike Chapman and to learn more about New York City landmarks and institutions is enough of a reason to buy the book. This time it's the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History. When the body of a young intern at the Cloisters is found in a sarcophagus on a ship bound for Egypt, Alex and Mike find the inner workings of the museums, not to mention its many hidden room both fascinating and possibly deadly. An intriguing tale after which one will never look at the institutionalized collection of art and artifacts, including human bones, in quite the same way. It's also a view of why other cultures and countries may not look upon the European/American penchant for "collecting" with quite the reverence that collectors have come to expect. As always Fairstein intersperses other cases that the Sex Unit of the District Attorney's office is investigating. There is also some interesting, but very subtle movement in the relationship between Alex and Mike. Although books rarely cause me to cry, Alex's recounting of the events of September 11 from her viewpoint as well as from Mike's brought tears to my eyes. It's a beautiful and heartrending account that has nothing to do with the story, but fits in beautifully with the novel. It is also a story that I imagine the author had to tell. "The Bone Vault" is a wonderful book that is available this month. Highly recommended for all who enjoy a great story, fully realized characters and fine writing.
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Format: Hardcover
I like Fairstein's books. Great literature they are not, but they are very well-written and very researched. This one involved the museums in New York (which I really, really want to see thanks to this book). A shipment of artifacts to share with other museums goes a bit awry, meaning one of the sarcophagus' open and share it's inhabitant to the men loading the artifacts. It becomes too apparent that the woman inside, though well-preserved is not a member of the royal Eqyptian family!
Cooper and Chapman have their hands way too full this time. Part of it is due to heat, crime goes up with heat. Part of it is sheer stupidity of the criminals. Fairstein does a heart-breaking analysis of 9/11 and its impact on both the city and the people who rushed to respond (cops, firefighters), and it made me remember the anquish all over again.
Cooper and Chapman have a good working relationship. They need to in this one, since the museums are bound and determine not to let the police interfere even though one of the museums is harboring a killer.
Thanks to Fairstein, I got a lot of background about museums I didn't know. Very interesting. What a warren of rabbit holes, filled with stuff we will never get to see, though I would love to visit down there. Maybe the museums should think about having limited tours for those who are interested in seeing the old and 'other' stuff.
Fun book for the beach.
Karen Sadler
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Format: Hardcover
This is my first Linda Fairstein book, and I must say, even though this is a mixed review, that I am impressed. She uses the occasion of the discovery of a freakishly preserved corpse discovered in a sarcophagus where only a mummy should have been to write a detailed and convincing police procedural about the world behind the exhibits in several of the world's most famous museums. As I discovered with 'The Relic,' I am a sucker for stories that play out in the almost gothic settings these museums and their secret places provide.
Alexandra Cooper, head of the Manhattan DA's Sex Crimes Unit, becomes involved in this case as the result of attending a museum event announcing a new joint exhibit to be created but the Metropolitan, the Cloisters, and the Museum of Natural History. When the body is discovered while in the process of shipment, she is asked to consult, and brings in the Manhattan Police Department when it becomes clear that this is a murder case. Thereby triggering a steady stream of museum political wrangles and infighting. Balancing this is her regular caseload of criminal investigations and prosecutions. This makes for a rich and satisfying story with plenty of mystery, complications, and personality.
I have to issues with the narrative, however. The first is that Fairstein writes almost an entire chapter using the events of 9/11 to build sympathy for both Alexandra Cooper and her colleague, Mike Chapman. Personally, I do not think this was necessary, certainly not to the extent that it was done. Moreover, at the end of it all, we really know very little more about either character. I think there are more effective ways to honor the lives lost on that day, and more effective ways to do character development.
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