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by Linda Fairstein
Scribner, 1999
Review by Su Terry on Jun 8th 2004

Cold Hit

            Cold Hit by Linda Fairstein is the third in the "Alex Cooper mystery series." Alex Cooper is an assistant DA and bureau chief for the Manhattan's Sex Crimes Prosecutions Unit.  Cold Hit focuses on the rape-murder of a beautiful woman with moneyed ties to the art world.

Cold Hit is set in upscale Manhattan during a sweltering august in the mid-1990s. The novel opens with the discovery of the body of an obvious rich and once beautiful woman tied to a ladder thrown into the Hudson River. The woman was Denise "Deni" Caxton, the soon to be former trophy wife of the much older, Lowell Caxton, a very wealth international art dealer. Deni had learned much from Caxton about the buying and selling of art. Unfortunately there is no accounting for taste. Deni's ran to avant garde modern art, warehouse galleries in up and coming yet still seedy parts of the City, and bad men with expense drug habits. Was her death the artistic work of her coked up business partner, Bryan Daughtry, or the handy work of her ex-con handyman, Omar Sheffield? Did her soon to be ex husband add his artistic touch to her death or was it Marilyn Seven, Deni's closest friend, mentor, and Caxton's daughter by his second wife? Deni had learned the hard way that in life as in art, bad taste can proved fatal.

Alex is joined once more by her faithful staff of sidekicks, the smart talking Detective Mike Chapman, her ever-faithful and very pregnant office assistant, Laura Wilkie, and her pushy number driven boss, Bagatalia. 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 realistic.

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). There are two books in the Alex Cooper Mystery Series Final Jeopardy (1996), Likely to Die (1997), and now Cold Hit (1999). Her website is: http://www.lindafairstein.com

            Cold Hit by Linda Fairstein is the third, but not the last, in the "Alex Cooper mystery series." It has enough legalese, police procedure, and fast paced action to thrill most readers. Be prepared for Art 101. (Although… I found this aspect one of the more fascinating parts of the book.) This is one excellent read! 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 College, Long Island, NY.