One of the most haunting buildings in New York City, and perhaps the most dramatically beautiful, the Deadhouse sits on a small island in the middle of the East River. The abandoned structure, like the ghostly remains of a castle, plays in the imagination as a site of mystery and intrigue...a likely place for murder.
Following on the bestselling success of Cold Hit, Likely to Die, and Final Jeopardy, top Manhattan sex crimes DA Linda Fairstein brings her unique blend of authenticity and style to a mesmerizing tale of murder and deceit.
It's the holiday season but there's little reason for cheer at one of New York's most elite colleges. A respected professor is dead; strangled and dumped in an elevator shaft. Lola Dakota's lifeless fingers clutch a few strands of hair, and a piece of paper in her pocket reads "The Deadhouse."
What brought a distinguished academic to such a tragic end? Opportunistic murder seems unlikely as assistant DA Alexandra Cooper, working with detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, uncovers a distressing pattern of betrayal and terror.
There's proof that Lola's husband, Ivan, wanted her dead. He has an alibi, but could he have hired a killer? Or could one of Lola's colleagues have erupted into unexpected violence? Some of their stories don't quite ring true. And why did Lola have a photograph of twenty-year-old Charlotte Voight pinned to her office bulletin board? Charlotte left her dorm room eight months ago and vanished into the night. Is she dead? Could she and Lola have become victims of the same predator?
Perhaps most puzzling of all are the words "The Deadhouse." What was Lola's connection to this desolate place where people once endured slow and agonizing deaths? And what danger awaits Alex there or on the streets of Manhattan as she targets Lola's killer?
A richly nuanced synthesis of history and suspense, The Deadhouse showcases Linda Fairstein's immense talent as never before.
Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Fairstein gives popular protagonist Alexandra Cooper a tough case: who murdered celebrated political science professor Lola Dakota, and why did she have a note in her pocket bearing the word "dead-house" the place in 19th-century New York where small pox patients went to die. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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November 15, 2001
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Excerpt from The Deadhouse by Linda Fairstein
It was hard not to smile as I watched Lola Dakota die.
I clicked the remote control button and listened to the commentary again on another network.
"New Jersey police officers have released a portion of these dramatic videotapes to the media this evening. We're going to play for you the actual recordings the three hit men hired by her husband to kill Ms. Dakota made to prove to him that they had accomplished their mission."
The local reporter was posed in front of a large mansion in the town of Summit, less than an hour's drive from where I was sitting, in the video technicians' office of the New York County District Attorney. Snowflakes drifted and swirled around her head as she pointed a gloved hand at the darkened facade of a house ringed with strands of tiny white Christmas lights that outlined the roof, the windows, and the enormous wreath on the front door.
"Earlier this afternoon, before the sun went down, Hugh," the woman addressed the news channel's anchorman, "those of us who gathered here for word of Ms. Dakota's condition could see pools of blood, left in the snow during the early morning shooting. It will be a grim holiday season for this forty-two-year-old university professor's family. Let's take you back over the story that led to this morning's tragic events."
Mike Chapman grabbed the clicker from my hand and pressed the mute button, then jabbed at my back with it. "How come the Jersey prosecutors got to do this caper? Too big for you to handle, blondie?"
As the bureau chief in charge of sex crimes for the New York County District Attorney's Office for more than a decade, sexual assault cases -- as well as domestic violence and stalking crimes -- fell under my jurisdiction. The district attorney, Paul Battaglia, ran an office with a legal staff of more than six hundred lawyers, but he had taken a particular interest in the investigation of the professor's perilous marital entanglement.
"Battaglia didn't like the whole idea -- the risk, the melodrama, and... well, the emotional instability of Lola Dakota. He probably didn't know the story would look this good on the late news broadcast or he might have reconsidered."
Chapman lifted his foot to the edge of my chair and swiveled it around so that I faced him. "Had you worked with Lola for a long time?"
"I guess it's been almost two years since the first day I met her. Someone called Battaglia from the president's office at Columbia University. Said there was a matter that needed to be handled discreetly." I reached for a cup of coffee. "One of their professors had split from her husband, and he was stalking her. The usual domestic. She didn't want to have him arrested, didn't want any publicity that would embarrass the administration -- just wanted him to leave her alone. The DA kicked it over to me to try to make it happen. That's how I met Lola Dakota. And became aware of her miserable husband."