In Linda Fairstein’s outstanding new novel, the New York Public Library houses dazzling treasures—and deadly secrets. When Assistant District Attorney Alex Cooper is summoned to Tina Barr’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, she finds a neighbor convinced that the young woman was assaulted. But the terrified victim, a conservator of rare books and maps, refuses to cooperate with investigators. Then another woman is found murdered in that same apartment with an extremely valuable book, believed to have been stolen. As Alex pursues the murderer, she is drawn into the strange and privileged world of the Hunt family, major benefactors of the New York Public Library and passionate rare book collectors. Eventually Alex connects their internal family rivalries to a priceless edition ofAlice in Wonderland, which also contains the world’s oldest map. Would one of the well-bred Hunts be willing to kill for the treasures? The search for the answer takes Alex and her team on a breathtaking chase from Manhattan’s grandest apartments to the secret tunnels and chambers of the New York Public Library, and finally to a nineteenth-century underground vault.
At the start of bestseller Fairstein's entertaining 11th legal thriller to feature ADA Alexandra Cooper of Manhattan's Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit (after Killer Heat), Alex persuades librarian Tina Barr to go to the hospital after a burglar posing as a fireman assaults Tina at her East Side home. After Tina disappears, a woman's corpse turns up in Tina's abandoned apartment that looks like Tina's landlady, heiress Minerva Hunt, but in fact is Minerva's Romanian housekeeper. Alex and her sidekick, NYPD detective Mike Chapman, later learn that Tina was once employed by Minerva's father, Jasper Hunt, a rare book and map collector. The investigation leads Alex and her team into the dark depths of the New York Public Library in search of stolen items that certain bibliophiles and antique map enthusiasts would kill for. Full of fun information about the NYPL, the plot builds to a cool resolution that sets up Alex's next adventure involving a disturbing cold case. Author tour. (Jan.)
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February 09, 2009
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Excerpt from Lethal Legacy (Alexandra Cooper Novel) by Linda Fairstein
ONE "I want you to open the door for me." Only silence. "Look through the peephole," I said. "I'm not a cop. I'm an assistant district attorney." I stepped back and squared off so the woman inside the basement apartment could check me out. The hallway and staircase had been cleared of men in uniform, including the detail from Emergency Services poised to knock down her door with a battering ram, who were there when I arrived at the scene a short while ago at one o'clock in the morning. I didn't hear any sound from within. No sense of her movement. "My name is Alexandra Cooper. You're Tina, aren't you? Tina Barr." I didn't say what my specialty was, that I was in charge of the DA's Office Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit. The police weren't certain she had been assaulted by the man who had earlier invaded her home, but several of them thought she might reveal those details to me if I could gain her confidence. I moved in against the metal-clad door and pressed my ear to it, but heard nothing. "Don't lose your touch now, Coop." Mike Chapman walked down the steps and handed a light bulb to the rookie who was holding a flashlight over my shoulder. "The money on the street's against you, but I'm counting on your golden tongue to talk the lady out so those guys can go home and catch some sleep." The young cop passed the bulb to Mercer Wallace, the six-foot-six-inch-tall detective from the Special Victims Unit who had called me to the brownstone on the quiet block between Lexington and Third Avenues in the East 90's. Mercer reached overhead and screwed it in, illuminating the drab, cracked paint on the ceiling and walls of the hallway. "Somebody--most likely the perp--shattered the other one. There are slivers of glass everywhere." "Thanks, kid," Mike said, dismissing the rookie. "No progress here, Detective Wallace?" "We haven't got a homicide," I whispered to Mercer. "And they sell light bulbs at the bodega on Lex. I don't know why you think we needed Mike, but please get him off my back." "Damn, I've listened to Blondie charm full-on perverts into boarding the bus for a twenty-five-to-life time share at Sing-Sing. I've seen her coax confessions from the lying lips of the deranged and demented. I've watched as weak-willed men--" Mercer put his finger to his lips and pointed at the staircase. "Tina, these two detectives are my friends. I've worked with them for more than ten years." I paused to cough and clear my throat. There was still a bit of smoke wafting through the hallway. "Can you tell me why you don't want to open up? Why it is you won't trust us? We're worried about your safety, Tina. About your physical condition." Mercer pulled at my elbow. "Let's go up for a break. Get some fresh air." I stayed at the door for another few minutes and then followed Mike and Mercer to the small vestibule of the building and out onto the stoop. It was a mild October night, and neighbors returning to their homes, walking dogs, or hanging around the 'hood were checking on the police activity and trying to figure out what was wrong. The uniformed sergeant from the 23rd Precinct whose team had been the first responders was on the sidewalk in front of the building, talking to Billy Schultz, the man who had called 911 an hour earlier. "What's the situation behind the house?" Mike asked Mercer, as I caught up with them, on their way down the front steps. "Two cops stationed there. Small common garden for the tenants. Back doors from both the first floor and Barr's basement apartment, but no one has moved since they've been on site." "What do you know about the girl?" "Not much.