Saturday, February 21, 2009

a review of Lethal Legacy

Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein
(Doubleday, ISBN 978-0-385-52399-8)

As you walk past the stately entrance to the NY Public Library, past the twin sentinels of the stone lions, Temperance and Patience, who guard her entrance, you can't help but be impressed by the sheer beauty and historic significance of the building. But when author Linda Fairstein use the history and back scene operation of the library as well as the fascinating building itself as a character in her latest book, Lethal Legacy, I dare say we will gain a new found respect for this landmark of NYC.

Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cooper, as well as her police co-workers and friends Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace are back for their 11th appearance and I am sure fans of the series will be thrilled.
Alex, who has a background working with sex crime victims, is called to the scene of what appears to be an apartment invasion and assault of a young woman. But the woman in the apartment will not let police in and even when she finally talks to Alex, she refused to get medical attention or give any information to allow police to investigate the crime. It appears that will be the end of the case, until the woman, who turns out to be a curator of rare books and maps for the library as well as doing private work for several of the library's trustees, disappears. Alex's boss District Attorney Paul Battaglia, one always to have his nose in the prevailing political winds, shows an interest in the case and call Alex in for a discussion with Jill Gibson, third in charge at the library, with talk of thefts and intrigue, Alex is assigned to help in the investiagtion. It seems that many of New York's richest and most powerful families, founders and trustees of the library, are involved with a tale of priceless books and mysterious maps and when a couple of dead bodies turn up...well the mystery is on.

For someone like myself, who is both a book lover and always interested in stories that are set in NYC, the NY Public Library may be the real star of this book. Fairstein has done her homework and give us a fascinating glimpse of the history of the building and some of the famous families involved in it creation and a view into the massive stacks and private collections that make up it's holdings, things few of us will ever get a chance to see. To quote the description on the book,

“(Fairstein) takes readers on a breathtaking ride through the valuable first editions, lost atlases, and secret rooms and tunnels of the great New York Public Library.”

Tunnels! Secret escape hatches into neighboring Bryant Park! Priceless maps! Who knew the library was so exciting? And then we have some very good characters in Alex, Mike and Mercer. They are very likable and their friendship with each other...and do we catch perhaps a bit of sexual tension between Alex and Mike?...seems very believable and a nice addition to the plot,. My only quibble would be with Alex and her job and the endless amount of time she seems able to take out of the office or out of the courtroom, to be in the middle of the investigation. Surely she has a lot of other cases that need more than a phone call or two to keep on track. But I will cut Fairstein some slack on that (I am sure she is because she once actually worked as an ADA in NYC and my total knowledge of the job comes from watching countless, and I mean countess, reruns of Law and Order.

Overall, Lethal Legacy is a pretty good read; a little light on the mystery, a little predicable and a little murky in it's plot...but, for this reader at least, those flaws were overcome by a wealth of book and New York Public Library trivia and a tiny glance, if only fictionally, at some priceless rare books.
Most likely, I will give the series another go and start with the first in the series, Final Jeopardy.

For a few more reviews, check out...
A Reader's Respite
Shhh I'm Reading

Available from Amazon


  1. Sounds right, Caite. I haven't read this one because I bogged down a few books ago. But, I may have to read it because of what you said about all of the information about the New York Public Library and books. Thanks! From what I've read of the series, your review is right on target. And, I agree with you about the people who seem to have a lot of time away from their actual job.

  2. I think another one of her books is set on Governors Island..I might give that one a try since I have always been fascinated with the island since passing it so many time on the Staten Island ferry....sitting so close to the city and yet so separate...

    Or maybe not. so many books ya know.

  3. I couldn't agree more, was the book trivia stuff that made it work for me, too. I hope you start this series from the beginning, though, and let me know if it's worthwhile or not!

  4. Hi, Caite?
    This is Bingo at
    Your name was chosen as one of the 5 winners for a copy of THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY. I tried to email you about your win but the email returned saying no such address. I tried the ??
    Anyway, can you leave me another email or way to get in touch with you so I can send you your prize? I checked your profile and it brought me to this blog so hope I am in the correct place. Please let me know on my website if I am not or if there is a problem. Thank you, Bingo!

  5. Sounds good to me! I've read one Fairstein book and I enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to this one.

  6. I am a big fan of this series, and I have this book sitting on my shelves waiting to be loved. Murder and mayhem and mystery at the library? It just couldn't get any more attractive to me!!!!

  7. well, don't necessarily hope for 'loved'

  8. I agree about Alex constantly being in the middle of a crime scene, but it was a fun book.

  9. I've heard interesting things about this one. I've never been to NYC but I do enjoy books set there most of the time... and anything that has to do with a library :)

  10. class historic library....all good!


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