Silent Mercy Hardcover – Mar 8 2011
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A real winner from a legal-thriller master Booklist --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Linda Fairstein was chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan for more than two decades and is America’s foremost legal expert on sexual assauly and domestic violence. Her Alexandra Cooper novels are international bestsellers and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. She lives with her husband in Manhattan and on Martha’s Vineyard.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Manhattan's Special Victims unit chief Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cooper and NYPD colleagues Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace investigate the ritual killings seeking a link between the two victims beyond silencing two female activists. They soon connect the Manhattan murders to homicides of a female pastor in Kentucky and a gay Pentecostal minister in Georgia. The ADA also works two other high visibility cases of a school student's claim of rape and an accusation of clerical sex abuse.
The latest Cooper investigative legal thriller (see Hell's Gate) is an exciting action-packed tale with quite a wallop. As required but still fun is a tour of Manhattan "as an island of churches". The story line focuses brilliantly and sharply at organized religions' antiquated but methodical allegorical beheading of women with an avenging sword wrapped inside holiness that will lead to Linda Fairstein's excommunication. Fast-paced within a strong whodunit, fans except religious fundamentalists will relish Silent Mercy.
I gave it 3 stars because I'm finding it hard to care about the main characters as much as I used to. I pre-ordered this when it first came out, and it's been sitting on my shelf for the last couple of months because I started feeling this disappointment when I read the previous book, and didn't want to feel that way about this one., About midway through I just started skimming to get to the end. There have been about a dozen books in this series, and the characters have worked together for over 10 years, but they haven't changed at all. About the only difference I see, is that Chapman's good-natured ribbing is taking on a much snarkier edge.
It would be nice to see more about the characters personally, and it would be nice to see them relating to others more. We know that Mercer's married with a son; we got a brief glimpse of them in the last book, but that was it. It's obvious that Cooper is married to her job, but I need to see she's not all about work. I thought after a dozen books, we might have seen her in situations where she would have to struggle to balance work and personal, like most women have to. She's never put anything before work, nor does it look like she ever will, and that's boring to me.
And don't hold Luc up as an argument for her having a social life. All of her boyfriends have been like him, long distance, fly in, fly out, meet here, meet there, blah, blah, blah. Those aren't real relationships. A real relationship is a guy she's seeing that has to kick Mercer and Mike out of the apartment because they've had her for 12 hours that day, and he wants to be a part of her life too. A real relationship is someone she has to actually share herself with, and I don't see that happening.
The characters are nicely drawn, and they don't detract from the stories, so I'll read the next book and know I'll be glad I did, but I've lowered my expectations on character growth.
I also wonder why someone with Fairstein's obvious personal and professional connections, she doesn't get someone who knows something to read her drafts before they print. She's so profoundly wrong on both Jewish law and Catholic theology that it's embarrassing -- or rather she should be embarrassed, but I gather she doesn't know any better, just spouts off what she thinks it should be, and assumes that's what it is. The funny thing is, these last books are loaded with historical trivia about New York -- I don't know much about NY, but what I'm wondering now is this: is she as wrong about NY trivia as she is about the various religious doctrines? Maybe she's just shooting from the hip there, too. Sort of takes the fun out of it, y'know?
The other oddment that overwhelms in this book is Alexandra's almost complete absence from her place of work. Geez, doesn't she at least have to show up once in a while? And this time she's plotting to go around her boss's direct orders. I dunno -- I guess we're supposed to believe that she's so important to the world at large that she can do anything she pleases and get away with it.
I'm tired of the 'rich girl' chatter, too. I guess I'm just tired of Alex Cooper. She's gone beyond tiresome and ventured into 'ridiculous'. I'll skip the next new books and if I need an 'Alex Cooper' adventure, go back and read one of the earlier ones.
The characters reprise their usual roles in the series. Mike and Alex engage in the same old bantering dialogue featuring Mike's nonpolitically correct language. Between the two of them, they provide all the boring history related to the landmarks where the crimes take place (do people really know that stuff off the cuff like these two characters, much less discuss it while looking at dead bodies?). Alex has the same old discussions with her boss, and she battles her nemesis in the office again. The threesome of Mike, Alex, and Mercer are still eating at the same restaurant in the middle of the night or betting on the Final Jeopardy question. Alex still provides the most important clues in solving the case and inevitably ends up in personal danger.
The plot for this book seems absurd and overly dramatic to me, the basic elements being dead female clergy, a circus train, leprosy, and late night danger on a small island in the Atlantic. That Alex can put together all the very tenuous clues like she does is unbelievable, but Fairstein covers this strain in credulity by having Mike say she is thinking outside the box. Religion and, particularly, the role of female clergy play a big role in this book, but Fairstein is obviously no expert in this area, and so her parroting of her research experts is obvious--and all her experts are liberal theologians with their theology of tolerance. Fairstein lands nowhere in the middle as the other religious group involved is a Christian cult of violence.
Fairstein's writing is adequate, but also formulaic by now. One thing that annoys me about her writing about her characters is they are always described as exceptional, ie, the team is "stunning," someone has "vast" knowledge, etc. None of Alex's friends or co-workers are ordinary folk. I personally don't enjoy the character of Alex--rich girl living in a great apartment but "giving back" to society. Her work world may be full of human misery and darkness, but she gets to go home to her safe and elegant apartment or to her lovely house on Martha's Vineyard to pamper herself unlike the rest of her co-workers. Anyway, I am tired of this series, and I don't think I will read any more of it.
For more mystery series that may entertain you, check out my website describing and reviewing many series (see my Amazon profile for the URL).