Today’s review for TLC Book Tours is Night Watch by Linda Fairstein. As always, I am provided with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Night Watch is part of a series of mysteries written by Linda Fairstein, a former New York City prosecutor. The protagonist is Alexandra Cooper who is an attorney who heads the Sex Crimes Unit and works under the District Attorney of New York City. In this book, Alexandra is visiting her boyfriend Luc, a well-known restauranteur who lives in France, when a woman’s body is found. The woman is found to have ties to Luc’s restaurant. With the woman’s murder still unresolved, Alex is called back to Manhattan to investigate an accusation of rape made by a hotel chambermaid. The accused rapist is a famous figure, Mohammed Gil-Darsin – obviously modeled after the recent real-life case involving Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund. Meanwhile another body is found in New York City that also has a connection to Luc and his new restaurant venture in Manhattan.
If you like watching Law and Order SVU and are drawn to that kind of police/prosecutor/courtroom procedural, you’ll most likely enjoy this mystery. Fairstein’s years of experience create a very real, detailed account of the prosecutorial process and the ways in which prosecutors and detectives in the Sex Crimes Unit work together to solve a crime and bring the perpetrator to justice. All of that detail rings true.
I read one of Fairstein’s mysteries several years ago and haven’t read one since. This time, however, I encountered the same problems I had with the previous book. Purely on a personal level, I had trouble connecting to Alex Cooper. She’s written with a slightly detached quality, not unlike Kay Scarpetta in the Patricia Cornwell books, that makes it difficult for me to care about her. Both protagonists are good at what they do and that slight sense of cool detachment serves them in their work. And maybe the sheer amount of procedural detail that the protagonist has to tell us about keeps her character from being fully realized. For whatever reason, I can’t quite jump in the pool with Alexandra.
Also, there’s too much time spent on the history of a famous restaurant or stories of prohibition or any number of historial references uttered by some of the characters. They serve to stop the flow of the story line and I suspect we really don’t need to know all that information. It could have been condensed into one or two sentences, making the dialogue much more believable. Instead, it sticks out as a device used by the author to tell us the history of things and it doesn’t ring true. To be honest, I got tired of these long winded digressions and started to skip over them.
The plot itself is woven together pretty neatly. However, I find it distracting to read about a character based on a recent real-life incident. I can never fully lose myself in the story because I’m constantly comparing what I know about the true story to what’s being written on the page. It serves as another distancing element.
Having said all that, there’s much in this mystery that will entertain the reader. I know that Fairstein’s mysteries are very popular and I’m sure some of you have read some, if not all, of the books in the series. The detail about what it’s like to be a prosecutor in Manhattan is fascinating and very believable. And the characters in the Sex Crimes Unit who work with Alex are very interesting. Add a dash of the politics that go along with the job and Fairstein creates a realistic environment and a compelling mystery.
About the Author:
Linda Fairstein was chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan for more than two decades and is America’s foremost legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence. Her Alexandra Cooper novels are international best sellers and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. She lives in Manhattan and on Martha’s Vineyard.
If you’d like to win a copy of Night Watch, please leave a comment on this post. You have until Friday evening, when I will pick the winner. Good luck!