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Lethal Legacy Hardcover – February 10, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews
Book 11 of 17 in the Alexandra Cooper Series

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Book Description
In Linda Fairstein’s outstanding new novel, the New York Public Library houses dazzling treasures—and deadly secrets.

When Assistant District Attorney Alex Cooper is summoned to Tina Barr’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, she finds a neighbor convinced that the young woman was assaulted. But the terrified victim, a conservator of rare books and maps, refuses to cooperate with investigators. Then another woman is found murdered in that same apartment with an extremely valuable book, believed to have been stolen. As Alex pursues the murderer, she is drawn into the strange and privileged world of the Hunt family, major benefactors of the New York Public Library and passionate rare book collectors.

Eventually Alex connects their internal family rivalries to a priceless edition of Alice in Wonderland, which also contains the world’s oldest map. Would one of the well-bred Hunts be willing to kill for the treasures? The search for the answer takes Alex and her team on a breathtaking chase from Manhattan’s grandest apartments to the secret tunnels and chambers of the New York Public Library, and finally to a nineteenth-century underground vault. There, in the pitch-black darkness, Alex comes face-to-face with the killer who values money more than life.

Featuring a cast of elite, erudite, and downright eccentric characters, and a complex trail of clues that will have you guessing until the final pages, Lethal Legacy is Linda Fairstein’s most beguiling thriller yet.

Amazon Exclusive: Harlan Coben Reviews Lethal Legacy

Harlan Coben, author of the bestselling Myron Bolitar series, reviews Lethal Legacy for Amazon:

Okay, there are two kinds of people reading this review: those who have already read Linda Fairstein and her terrific series featuring sex crime unit ADA Alexandra Cooper and her sidekick, NYPD Detective Mike Chapman, a man so real to me I once had him help out one of my own fictional characters. And those of you who, uh, haven't.

For those who have, let's make this quick. Lethal Legacy is great. No worries. It is filled with what you already love about her books--the characters, the plot twists, the suspense, the heightened realism that only someone who has truly walked the walked (for those living in a cave, Linda Fairstein was the ADA who helped create the sex crimes unit in Manhattan) can provide.

On top of that, Fairstein had done some wonderful research on the New York Public Library. She weaves the lore of this legendary edifice into a nifty mystery that starts off as a harrowing missing-person-homicide case--but blossoms into something far deeper. I think I dug the parts involving the NYPL most of all.

In short, stop wasting your time reading this and dive in. You already know what to expect.

To those who haven't read Fairstein and thus haven't yet "chilled" with Cooper and Chapman, well, what's the deal? Lethal Legacy is a great place to start--my personal favorite in this New York Times bestselling series. Don't you love finding a new author with a big backlist? Me too.

So here's what you do. See that yellow box up in the right-hand corner? Click it now and see what the fuss is all about. You'll thank me later.

(Photo Credit Beatrice LeGrand)

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of bestseller Fairstein's entertaining 11th legal thriller to feature ADA Alexandra Cooper of Manhattan's Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit (after Killer Heat), Alex persuades librarian Tina Barr to go to the hospital after a burglar posing as a fireman assaults Tina at her East Side home. After Tina disappears, a woman's corpse turns up in Tina's abandoned apartment that looks like Tina's landlady, heiress Minerva Hunt, but in fact is Minerva's Romanian housekeeper. Alex and her sidekick, NYPD detective Mike Chapman, later learn that Tina was once employed by Minerva's father, Jasper Hunt, a rare book and map collector. The investigation leads Alex and her team into the dark depths of the New York Public Library in search of stolen items that certain bibliophiles and antique map enthusiasts would kill for. Full of fun information about the NYPL, the plot builds to a cool resolution that sets up Alex's next adventure involving a disturbing cold case. Author tour. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (February 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385523998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385523998
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,149,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More 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 bestsellers and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. She lives in Manhattan and on Martha's Vineyard. www.lindafairstein.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Lethal Legacy is a fairly tight thriller that ought to appeal to bibliophiles. Set in present-day Manhattan, Assistant District Attorney Alex Cooper is led on an investigation that leads her directly to the New York Public Library.

The history and inner workings of the historic landmark is skillfully woven into the tale making for a fun diversion in this otherwise standard-fare thriller.

If you love rare books, their history and bits of literary trivia, you'll likely enjoy this ride. The thriller portion of the story is pretty tight and the pace clips right along to a marginally-predictable, but nontheless satisfying, ending.

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Format: Hardcover
There is a genre of detective fiction that blends a thrilling tale with generally unknown information about a subject that fascinates the novel's readers. The book titillates and informs. One of the well-known practitioners of this art is Dan Brown who did so successfully with his The Da Vinci Code. Unfortunately many readers thought that his recent novel The Lost Symbol was not as good. Some thought that the information about the Masons was overmuch and insufficiently interesting.

This is the principle problem with this two-pronged genre: like a well-cooked dish or a superb martini, it requires just the right mixture of the two ingredients; too much of one can destroy the otherwise good meal or superb drink.
Fairstein is an excellent writer and she generally succeeds in providing her readers a tasty blend. However, while I rarely put aside a book unfinished, I did so with this novel. I personally love books and I found the information that she offered on the history of books and maps interesting. However, like a twenty minute church or synagogue sermon that exceeds its time limit, I began to feel as if I was overburdened by the time I reached a quarter of the book.
I pushed myself with the hope that the mystery would revive my interest, but by the middle of the novel, when there were discussions about how maps caused America not to be named after Columbus, how they influenced ancient discoveries. How and why they became collector items, how they were stored, how thieves cut maps from ancient volumes, and other facts, I gave up.

But I did not give up on Fairstein. I feel certain that her next book, like those in the past, will have the right mix and I will enjoy both the mystery and arcane facts about some history of New York.
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Format: Hardcover
A man disguised as a fireman sets off an incendiary device in a hall way. As it fills the air with smoke, he knocks on the door of one the inhabitants of the building, Tina Barr, and when she lets him in, he attacks her. After he leaves, she locks herself in her apartment, refusing to let in the police and other law enforcement agencies who come to help. Alexandra(Alex) Cooper, an assistant district attorney, finally convinces her to unlock the door and seek medical help but just as soon as the paramedics take Tina to the hospital, she leaves and disappears. The police cannot officially look for her because she left of her own free will and is therefore not a missing person and she never actually reported a crime was committed. Eventually Alex's boss receives pressure from outside sources and demands that she find Tina. A few days later Tina is found, dead and wrapped in tarp in Bryant Park.

The questions surrounding Tina's death are many. Was her death related to the work she did as a restorer of rare books for the library and for private clients? Did Tina know something or see something that led to her brutal slaying? Was Tina involved in the loss of millions of dollars worth of rare books and maps that were missing from donated collections in the library? Was her death related to that of another woman found murdered in her former apartment?

This book is interesting in the way that it turns the main branch of the New York Public library into a fascinating backdrop for a thriller. Notable facts about history, book binding, legacies to institutions are topics covered in great depth. It is quite fascinating what you learn as you read the book. It gave me an interesting insight into the city I call home and its numerous cultural institutions.
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Format: Hardcover
Fairstein's Alex Cooper series usually gives us tight, tautly plotted legal/crime thrillers, but "Lethal Legacy" is the exception that proves the rule.

The story starts out very promisingly with an assault victim who's not cooperative with Cooper and her cohorts, raising the question of "what's going on here?" - but quickly goes downhill from there.

A couple of dead bodies later, and things become as murky as mud: an eccentric family of wealthy museum benefactors; the operation and setting of a New York museum; collections of rare books and maps; a completely irrelevant second criminal proceeding that's thrown in for no discernible reason at all; a visit from her paramour that lands with a thud in the middle of the whole thing.

I couldn't make heads or tails of what was going on. The benefactor family was a confusing mess; there was FAR too much time spent on the arcana of the museum and its operations; the ancient map (which was the "mulligan" of the piece), though interesting, was given too much space in the story. This read more like a detailed scavenger hunt than a murder mystery.

Traditionally, Fairstein weaves interesting and unique New York locales into her narratives, but at heart they remain murder mysteries. Not the case in this book; the whole concept is turned completely upside down, with the murders playing second fiddle to the search for a map. An unhappy mating of Alexandra Cooper and "National Treasure".

My two stars are generous.
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