Alex Cooper returns in Linda Fairstein's fourteenth legal thriller. Out of her normal neighborhood, Alex is vacationing in France at the home of her significant other, Luc, when a body turns up drowned in a pond. The victim, a young female, has past connections to Luc but before the mystery of her death can be solved, Alex is summoned back to New York. A case sex crimes case with international significance has just broken wide open and the NY DA wants Alex back at work.
As the world begins to bicker over the sex crimes case, Detective Mike Chapman is doing a tour of duty on Night Watch and is called to the scene of a murder in the Gowanus Canal. Half way around the world, this victim, too, ends up with a connection to Luc. In his pocket is a single matchbox. On the matchbox is the name of Luc's future restaurant.
Alex struggles to keep her attention on a case that grows more and more complicated by the minute while her closest friend struggles to find the truth about the man she loves.
As I typed that last sentence in the plot summary, I thought, "oh my, does it sound like I'm summarizing a romance novel?" I'm a tough critic when it comes to romance in my crime novels. I devour a novel that is rich in complex relationships and throw a novel that is heavy with graphic detail. Linda Fairstein's books definitely fall into the category of rich, complex relationships. That's what hooked me on this series many years ago and what consistently brings me back to it.
The pieces that make up those relationships are equally dynamic. The trio of Mike, Mercer and Alex complement each other perfectly. Instead of having a perfect pair, Fairstein has created a perfect trio. While sparks regularly fly between Alex and Mike, they've yet to ignite. Mercer is the calming presence when the similarities between Mike and Alex conflict instead of complement. Mercer is the strong, silent type, the compassionate and rational Musketeer. Mike provides the extra jolt of testosterone, the humor, the courage. He's a take charge kind of guy. And Alex is a combination of both. She's compassionate yet stern. Her role as a prosecutor demands that she be bold, but she still owns her fears.
When I first began reading this series I had never visited New York City. It was truly a foreign land to me. But it came alive in the tales of ADA Alexandra Cooper. In every novel Fairstein finds a special element of the city to explore and terrorize. For NIGHT WATCH that element is the restaurant scene. The crime solving trio have always had their favorite hang-outs, but in NIGHT WATCH we get an inside peek into some of the poshest dining experience New York has to offer. And I'm reminded just how Mid-western I actually am.
As much as I love these strengths of Fairstein's novels, the area that continues to amaze me is her handling of Alex's job. Of course Fairstein is intimately familiar with prosecuting sex crimes because she herself did that job for twenty-five years. But she's able to present the delicacies and the balancing acts these individuals face in such a way that it's understandable, it's real, AND it's exciting enough to maintain a 400-page crime novel. The stories aren't weighed down with a lot of jargon and technical details that are essential to the plot are presented in a such a way that the average person can fully grasp their significance.
This series continues to hold a special place in my heart as it's one of the reasons I started reading crime fiction. I'm thankful that Linda Fairstein continues to write thrilling stories full of fascinating characters. I continue to learn about the city she loves as well as trivia tidbits from the signature Final Jeopardy wagers. And in NIGHT WATCH Linda even leaves readers with a couple "things that make you go hmmmm." They aren't so much loose ends as they are ideas that make you think. I rather like that in my crime novels.
NIGHT WATCH releases in hardcover (ISBN: 9780525952633) from Dutton on July 10th. There is also an audiobook version from Penguin Audio (ISBN: 9781611760415) narrated by Barbara Rosenblat.
My review is part of the TLC Book Blog Tour for Night Watch. You can check out additional reviews by visiting their site. You can learn more about Linda Fairstein and the Alexandra Cooper series at her website or her Facebook page. And if you're interested and didn't read it last year, here's a blog post I wrote after getting to meet Linda in person for the first time last year. There's always this tiny fear of meeting someone you idolize...what if they're mean or disappointing or something other than wonderful? Well, Linda is charming and kind and funny and smart. And meeting her was a great thrill and a great honor.
Finally, I get to give away a copy of NIGHT WATCH. If you've never read any of Linda's books, don't fret. You can easily pick up NIGHT WATCH and not feel lost at all. I actually think you'll be hooked and want to go back and read all thirteen previous books. So, to be in the running for this giveaway and to keep with the restaurant theme...tell me in the comments the swankiest restaurant you've ever eaten at...and were you impressed or disappointed?
The contest is open to residents of the US or Canada only please. And I'll take all entries through Sunday. And speaking of contests. We must send out a big congrats to Patrick Murphy who won the copy of PLAYING DEAD by Julia Heaberlin from last week's contest.