Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lethal Legacy - Linda Fairstein

Tina Barr, a conservator of rare books and maps, is discovered bound and drugged in her apartment with the suspect fleeing the scene in a fireman's gas mask. Assistant District Attorney Alex Cooper is called to the scene to discover if Tina was sexually assaulted in the attack. And when Tina refuses to cooperate and disappears, Alex is directed by District Attorney Paul Battaglia to find her. Alex does find Tina. She finds her dead in Bryant Park.

The search for Tina's murderer and the man who assaulted her in her apartment leads Alex, Mike and Mercer to the halls, tunnels, and secret rooms of the New York Public Library where they find "bibliomaniacs" willing to kill for their books. The only question is, "which one killed Tina?"

Reading a Linda Fairstein thriller is like taking an intimate look into a section of New York City. Every book focuses on an intriguing element of the city, and Fairstein takes you into the depths of that element to see it as you've never seen it before. Lethal Legacy is no different. In this Alex Cooper novel, Fairstein takes you not only in the New York City Library structure but into the history of the library as well. Being a bibliophile myself - not quite a cut-throat bibliomaniac, I don't think - I was absolutely mesmerized by this amazing institution. I finished the book feeling as though I'd not only been entertained but educated as well.

I was astounded to learn that books have been bound in human skin, anthropodermic binding. I had to look up some information on that subject after Wallace Mercer picked up Johan Krauss's inquest record that had been bound in the skin of the murderer from that very inquest. As Mike Chapman so acutely describes it, "It doesn't get much creepier than that."

I was also tickled to learn about Patience and Fortitude, to delve into the actual library history with the likes of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox. The entire institution is amazing and beautiful and in Lethal Legacy, quite deadly.

The characters in this series have always been among my favorites. In Lethal Legacy, a new character is introduced into the fold, one who would make a great addition to the regular crew. Shalik Samson is a twelve-year old street kid whose sarcasm and attitude fit perfectly with Mike Chapman's. And of course, Fairstein is true to form with the extensive, intriguing suspect list. As Mercer so aptly describes it:

"The whole damn crew is freaky...You got a sister-brother act that's as ugly as anything in Greek mythology, a too-nosy neighbor whose DNA winds up in an important piece of crime scene evidence, a one-armed guy who lives in the chapel of an old cancer hospital, a library executive who lied to Alex the first time they met, the most successful map thief n recent times now on parole, and a young turk with books bound in human skin who was so anxious to be wheels-up that -- "
Who knew a place as quiet and distinguished as a library could house enough murder and mayhem to be the perfect setting for a thriller novel? Linda Fairstein definitely outdid herself in Lethal Legacy. It was the perfect kick-off read for me in 2009. I highly recommend it!

Lethal Legacy will be released by Doubleday on Febrary 10, 2009, and is available now for pre-order.


Corey Wilde January 7, 2009 at 8:15 AM  

Sounds like a good book all right. I like the excerpt, sounds more like a carnival cast than your usual library patrons, eh?

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