Tuesday, July 3, 2012

NIGHT WATCH - Linda Fairstein

First line: "Bones."

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.


Karen B July 3, 2012 at 7:40 AM  

Back in the late 60s we were in New Orleans and ate at a fabulous restaurant - and I can't remember what the name of it was! I do remember that they served alligator (not to me...) Best food and service ever - IMPRESSED!

Anonymous July 3, 2012 at 8:15 AM  

When in Savannah, I stopped in to eat at the Olde Pink House. Didn't know it until I got there, but they were on Food Network (Best Think I Ever Ate) for their BLT Salad. This was a small bed of lettuce, a fried green tomato, a thick slab of bacon and buttermilk dressing. I had to try that and it was indeed the Best Think I Ever Ate. Go figure.


Nancy July 3, 2012 at 10:11 AM  

Probably the swankiest restaurant I ever ate at was the Four Seasons in Boston. I wasn't particularly impressed or disappointed...somewhere in between. Liked Boston's revolving restaurant (Spinnakers...Top of the Hub...I forget which) much better. Thanks for the giveaway.

Word Lily July 3, 2012 at 11:34 AM  

The swankiest place I've eaten was called James at the Mill (James is the chef). The food was excellent, and I was amused by the chef's cleverness.

Carol N Wong July 3, 2012 at 12:36 PM  

Back in the 1970's, my boyfriend then took me several times to "The Red Lion Inn". The waiters wore tuxedos, and the tables had bright red table clothes, white cloth napkins. It was very formal and you needed to dress up for it.


Linda Rodriguez July 3, 2012 at 12:38 PM  

I'm not a huge fan of fancy restaurants. I tend to like little local restaurants where the ambiance may not be upscale, but the food is delicious.

The swankiest restaurant I ever experienced was Morton's The Steakhouse in Bethesda. $100+ for a small meal by the time you ordered everything separately. Some of it was pretty good, some really wasn't. None of it beat out places I already knew with much lower prices. Not impressed.

There are much swankier places, I'm sure, especially on the East Coast where I seldom visit. I might swoon at one of them.

I love Linda Fairstein's books! Thanks for the giveaway.

lindalynetterodriguez (at) gmail (dot) com

J.R. Locke July 3, 2012 at 6:40 PM  

As a home sick NY Restaurant guy, this review makes me want to check out the book just for the nostalgia.

Annie Dennison July 4, 2012 at 1:58 PM  

For me that would have to be Mister A's, an historic landmark restaurant in San Diego with a killer twelfth-floor view over the city.

But the minute our pale waiter with slicked-back black hair, pronounced teeth, and a napkin mysteriously laid over his forearm appeared at our table and leaned in to take my order, I was certain he was a vampire.

It took some major bribery (of a big dessert) on my mom's part to finally convince me it was worth my while to leave the safety of the ladies' room.

At the time I was 10 and impressed only by the bribe, which turned out to be my first (but definitely not last) chocolate mousse.

Thanks for doing this giveaway!

Peppermint Ph.D. July 4, 2012 at 5:59 PM  

The swankiest (and best) restaurant I've ever eaten in is called Seagar's and is part of the San Destin, Hilton resort. Our family eats there on the last night of our vacation each year. It is an absolutely fantastic experience with a captain, wine sommelier, regular wait staff, visits by the chef and dessert made at the table :) The food is steak and seafood and is absolutely mouth watering. :)
I just read about this series somewhere else this morning and put the first book in the series on my Amazon WishList :)

Carl July 10, 2012 at 11:04 AM  

I'm not really a fan of swanky restaurants but when I do go I'm usually impressed by the food. But really I don't enjoy the company of snobby people including restaurant staff. Just me I guess.

Carl July 10, 2012 at 11:05 AM  

Oops, email address: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours July 22, 2012 at 11:31 AM  

Thanks for being on the tour!

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