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Jeopardy by Linda Fairstein is the first in the "Alex
Cooper mystery series." Alex Cooper is an assistant DA and bureau chief
for the Manhattan's Sex Crimes Prosecutions
Unit. †Final Jeopardy focuses on the vicious murder of Alex's friend, a
sexy movie star, at Alex summer home. Did some one have it out for the selfish
star or was it a case of mistaken identity?
Jeopardy is set during the mid-1990s in upscale Manhattan and quiet Martha's
Vineyard. The novel opens with
Alexandra Cooper being notified of her own death. Obviously the news is in
error. She is not the faceless body found in the driveway of her Martha's Vineyard home. It was instead the body of Isabella Lascar, a movie
star acquaintance, who borrowed her summer house for a little undisturbed
R&R in order to study a new script. Unfortunately she was disturbed and in
a most vicious way. The major question for Alex, however, is was Lascar the
intended victim or herself? The beautiful Lascar had her troubles with stalkers
as well as a long string of jilted lovers. Then again, Alex, as the lead
prosecutor of the New York City Sex Crimes Unit is not without her own
malicious fans. The NYPD is not taking any chances and Mike Chapman, Manhattan detective and Alex's longtime buddy, is assigned to guard her.
Together they tackle the question of who was the intended victim - Lascar or Cooper.
Meanwhile, Alex struggles to maintain some semblance of professional normalcy
as the Bureau Chief of a major prosecution unit for the city of New York. Alex is also pinning for her latest lover, Jed Segal, an
investment banker current working on a deal in Paris. As the novel and investigation proceed the reader is
invited into the busy world of the Defender's Office. Alex juggles a number of
crimes, including the Con Ed rapist,
goes head to head with office politics, and fends off Ellen Goldman, a dogged
reporter for USA Lawyer Digest. Along the way we are introduced to a rogues'
gallery of characters including, Nina Baum, Alex's best friend who seems to
live in her car on the California freeway system, Luther Waldron, an unsophisticated
FBI agent who delights in sharing the latest in locker room sexual humor with
Alex, Johnny "Gorilla" Garelli, a stuntman
and former Lascar lover, who has better accuracy with his guns then with his
brain, and finally the mysterious Cordelia Jeffers, †a supposed Fellow of the Royal Academy of
Medicine who according to the medical profession does not exist but writes
overly insightful letters about Lascar and Cooper's private lives. (Who is
I must admit the "Alex Cooper Mystery series" is my latest
addiction. I can not seem to get enough of Fairstein's
novels. While I have never been a fan of Grisham, Trurow,
or the legal fiction genre, this series reads more like a literary version of the
television show "Law and Order". (There is definitely
enough of the "men in blue", crime scene analysis, and investigative
snooping to keep this gal happy!) I must admit it is a real eye open to have a
lawyer who must multitask juggling numerous cases, rather than exclusively focusing
on only one case as most legal fiction does. As a character, Alex is slightly
unbelievable in her ability to handle quite so many things without mussing up her
lipstick or running her panty hose. And, like so many modern female heroines, although
she is one step removed from Superwoman in her ability to survive certain
disaster, she crumbles into tears over quite ordinary relational issues. Still,
I trust that Fairstein knows of what she writes and is realistic in regard to her portrayals after all she is the role-model
for her character and her life is the fodder for her plots. I also must admit
to liking Chapman as the smart mouth detective. He strikes me as very
Linda Fairstein, like her character Alex
Cooper, has been a District Attorney and Bureau Chief for the Manhattan Sex Crimes Unit for over twenty years. Also like
Alex Cooper, Fairstein lives in Manhattan and has a home on Martha Vineyard. Unlike
Cooper, however, she is married. Her first book was the non-fiction,
Sexual Violence: Our War against Rape (1993). Final Jeopardy is her
first novel. Her website is: http://www.lindafairstein.com
††††††††††† Final Jeopardy by Linda Fairstein is the first, but not the last, in the "Alex
Cooper mystery series." It has enough legalese, police procedure, and fast
paced action to thrill most readers. Fairstein is one
DA to watch! Highly recommended.
© 2004 Su Terry
Su Terry: Education: B.A. in History from
Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from Southern Connecticut
State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral Counseling from Fairfield
University, a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from
New Brunswick Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual
Direction from Sacred Heart University. She is a Licensed Minister of the
United Church of Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at Dowling
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