Customer Reviews: Night Watch
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on July 10, 2012

Linda Fairstein's latest release, Night Watch, marks the fourteenth book in her highly successful Alex Cooper series.

This has been one of my favourite crime series over the years. Alex works in the New York P.D. Sex Crimes Unit. Fairstein herself Linda Fairstein was chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney's office in Manhattan for more than two decades and is a legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence. This gives her novels that unmistakable ring of truth and attention to detail - only one of the things that has kept me coming back to read the newest novel.

In Night Watch, Alex has headed over to France to visit with her latest love - Luc, a Michelin three star restaurant owner. When a young woman is found murdered in the idyllic French village, the local constabulary suspects Luc - there are connections he has neglected to mention that look suspicious. Also suspicious are the old skulls and bones left on his home's doorstep. Alex has plans to stay in France for two weeks, but a desperate plea from her partners Mike and Mercer and a distinct order from her boss have her heading back to New York. A high level diplomatic and world figure is being accused of rape by a hotel maid. (yep, lots of similarities to recent headlines)

Mike and Mercer are another one of the reasons I love this series. Fairstein has created a wonderful group of protagonists - each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Mike is brash, bold and fearless. Mercer is quieter, thoughtful and thinks before he acts or speaks. But the three of them together make for a team that gets results. The camaraderie between these three has grown and solidified over the course of many years. Of the two supporting characters, I prefer Mercer and would like to see him more of a larger storyline.

Luc is also planning to open a high end restaurant in New York. Cleared to travel, he heads to oversee his new enterprise.....but a second body is found.....again, with ties to Luc. Is Luc really the man Alex thought he was? Is he telling the truth or is someone railroading him? Between those worries and the fact that the witness in the high stakes rape case keeps changing her tune, Alex is spreading herself awfully thin. And it shows.

In Night Watch, Alex doesn't seem to have the same forceful personality I've come to love. yes, she is still on top of her legal game. But, her relationship with Luc seems to have her making excuses and behaving out of character. Maybe part of it is that I really don't like Luc at all. He makes numerous misogynist and racist comments in the first few opening chapters. They're quite offensive and I can`t believe Coop doesn't take umbrage with them. Her mooning about their relationship and Mike's willingness to feed that neediness just plain rubbed me the wrong way.

The third thing I love about Fairstein's novel is the New York history she always weaves into her novels. This time it's about the Prohibition era and the various ways that the ban was circumvented. I found the piece on 21 restaurant fascinating and went crawling the web to read more.

I'm still a big fan of this series and will happily pick up the next book. While I enjoyed Night Watch, it just fell a little flat for this reader. All the right pieces were there - all that was missing was the Alex I know. My advice - dump Luc.
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on July 22, 2012
Fairstein brings back Alex Cooper, a New York sex crimes prosecutor and her good friends - Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace. The three have an intense, complicated friendship that underscores the long running series.

Alexandra travels to the south of France to visit her French boyfriend, Luc Rouget. He is a restauranteur, following in his father's footsteps. He has a three star Michelan resturant in a small village. But her visit is immediately sidetracked by the discovery of a body in the village pond the night after a party given by Luc.

At the same time an African diplomat and French national is arrested in New York for assaulting a maid in his hotel. (Ripped from current events?) Cooper is called home to handle the high profile crime investigation and represent the prosecutor's office.

The two crimes - the sexual assault and the murder in France come front and center for the three friends. Complications, connections and misdirection are everywhere. Luc's character has never been one of my favorites and this installment does not help his likeability.

Fairstein always adds history and New York style to her work - and she doesn't disappoint here. It just isn't enough to lift the book out of ordinary status.

Long running fans of the series will not want to miss this installment - but it is not Fairstein's best effort. Just okay.
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VINE VOICEon September 2, 2012
The book has two plots that are very loosely connected to Luc, Alex's current boyfriend. The setting begins in France and then NYC where Alex has to work hard in her job as prosecutor in the rape of a hotel maid by a wealthy Frenchman with an African background. This is based on t he real story which gripped the world a year ago an d frankly was more exciting. This one ends with a fizzle. Aside from that except for Mercer who is one of the policemen working with Alex, the other characters including Alex are all pretty ugly. The end of t he book is good though and is connected to the other plot involving Luc's venture into a great restaurant in NYC. Like other reviewers here, I really hope that our author will drop Luc an d move on. Mike also is very unpleasant in this book and Alex doesn't shine either. Big disappointment to read this one. If Luc is in the next episode, I probably won't bother with it.
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on March 12, 2013
Ms Fairstein seems to have lost the plot--literally--with her Alexandra Cooper series.

I only managed to get to chapter 10 (around 70 pages) before I lost the will to continue in the vain hope of a return to Cooper's "old" US home-based style. Why were we subjected to so much irrelevant trivia about the French Riviera restaurant scene generally, plus the interminable descriptions of the interior of Luc's fabulous eatery? Did the colour of the curtains or the style of light fittings or the starched napery really have anything to do with the plot at hand, or was it just lazy plot filling. The first few chapters read like a tourist's restaurant guide, complete with exotic ingredients, and method of preparation and serving. Who cares if Luc's restaurant is 3 star or whatever? Does it matter?

Why were all the French cops toned-down caricatures of Inspector Jacques Clouseau? And the likelihood of them asking--even indirectly--for assistance from Cooper truly stretched the bounds of credibility. Not to mention the little indiscriminate French phrases thrown around apparently to add verisimilitude to the French locale (particularly as all the gendarmes spoke perfect English).

I won't even bother to shoot holes in the cardboard cutout of Luc, the master chef who knows all the local police hierarchy, and rides a "powerful" Ducati whilst ignoring the local speed limits. Suave, elegant, impeccably dressed, courted by the rich and famous who queue to enjoy the culinary masterpieces that, strangely, appear seldom touched by the hand of the master (he's never in his kitchen LOL).

Sorry Ms Fairstein; you've lost another reader.

I've given the unread part of the book an extra star for the benefit of the doubt.
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on July 20, 2012
This is one of my favourite series and I was disappointed. To be honest I found it tedious and Alex seemed to be to easily buffetted by events around her. I love Coop when she is cool calm and collected. Also the endless squabbling with Mike left me cold, usually the dialogue between the 2 characters keeps the books moving along and makes for some large laughs . At times they were like siblings and not work colleagues who have a mutual attraction that may or not may not be acted upon. As for Luc what a dreary tedious pretentious over cooked character that boy is. Please Ms Fairstein lets leave him in France with his boys and his south of France lifestyle.
Back to the gritty scenes of New York and the genuine interesting cases that occur.

I do suspect though that this book was a segue into a new era for Alex, the working relationship she began developing with Pat McKinney was interesting plus the internal dialogue as Coop considers her attraction to Mike. Perhaps Ms Fairstein is reinventing this series and so I will be kind and give 3 stars.

For all fans of this series it is a pleasant read and it is worth the money and the time, just not up to the usual terrific standard.
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on July 16, 2012
New York City ADA Alexandra Cooper is just settling in for some much needed R&R in the south of France with her lover, Frenchman Luc Rouget, owner of a three-star Michelin restaurant near the Côte d'Azur. Alex has barely unpacked her bags when a woman's body is discovered in a nearby pond, shattering the tranquility of the sleepy little village where Luc makes his home.

Her investigative radar goes off like a fire alarm when local officials declare the drowning accidental or a suicide. On-scene evidence, rapidly being trampled by the local gendarme and curiosity seekers, points to possible murder. This is the first hint of the gulf between American and French police work and public attitudes. When a matchbox advertising Luc's soon-to-be opened new restaurant in Manhattan is found in the dead woman's pocket, and further investigation reveals that she once worked for Luc, Alex finds herself entangled in a crime that may involve the man she loves.

Meanwhile, an international scandal is unfolding in New York, where the multi-millionaire head of a world-wide banking consortium has been accused of raping a hotel maid. Alex tries to ignore the frantic calls from her office, but soon learns that the DA's office has tracked her down and she has been called back to New York to take over the botched investigation. Her deposition of the victim falters as the maid's lawyer calls a press conference to announce the filing of a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against her famous assailant.

As Alex tries to put out the fires in the incendiary charges and counter charges in the rape case, another suspicious murder is reported in New York. This time the victim is male, but a matchbox advertising Luc's New York restaurant, identical to the one found on the woman in France, is discovered. When it is revealed that this victim, a French maitre d', recently accepted an important position in Luc's new restaurant project, Alex is caught between disillusionment and fear for the safety of her lover. Is he involved in criminal activities, or is he being framed?

Alex's relationship with Luc is further tested when his French laissez-faire attitude toward victims of sexual abuse collides with Alex's long-time crusade for victims' rights. While evidence builds against him and his financial backers in a potential drug-smuggling scheme, Alex is torn between believing in Luc, who may be an unknowing partner with dangerous criminals, and her growing disenchantment with his social attitudes.

If the ape case involving a prominent banking CEO president and a hotel maid sounds familiar, it is because a similar situation arose in the U.S. in May of 1911. The unfolding drama in the novel in no way resembles the real-life facts, but it underscores the press's love affair with sexually titillating events and the differences between American and European methods for dealing with high-profile cases. Author Linda Fairstein often features headline-grabbing crimes in her novels by dipping into her 27 years of experience as a prosecuting attorney in the New York Sex Crimes division.

Fairstein is also renowned for her vast historical knowledge of famous New York landmarks. This time, the reader is treated not only to a behind-the-scenes tour of some of America's finest haute cuisine restaurants, but also to the fascinating lore dating back to the Prohibition Era of the elaborate means used to keep the liquor flowing from their camouflaged cellars.

We are given a peek at Alex's complicated relationship with the current men in her life. There has long been an arm's-length affection between her and Mike, the wise-cracking police detective partner who always has her back but makes sure she doesn't let her success go to her head. Her long-distance and romantic affair with Luc has been a subtle undertone in the last few novels, but it comes front and center in NIGHT WATCH. Forced to more closely examine her feelings and a possible permanent future with the intriguing Monsieur Rouget, Alex is confronted with a major conflict as Mike's barbs become annoying and hurtful, and Luc's urbane cultural differences surface in unsettling ways.

Meanwhile, we turn the pages from the first paragraph to the last as Fairstein works her magic.

Reviewed by Roz Shea
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on December 19, 2012
I decided to buy this book based on two data points: first, a brief writeup in the NY Times about the restaurants touched on in the book, and second, I overheard two lawyers who had practiced law with or against the author discussing her literary career in a locker room. The discussion was not flattering, but it piqued my interest.

I have to say, it is a sloppy book. First, without giving away any spoilers, there are chapters of the book that purport to give significant clues but are conceded at the end to have been completely irrelevant to the plot. Second, there are two main plots and neither one has much to do with the other. Third, one of those plots is a barely-edited rewritep of the DSK / hotel maid scandal and I suspect was not even written by the author but by some assistant she hired. The other plot is fairly preposterous. Last, there is a sentence of dialogue in here in which one character literally refers to "the dark underbelly" of the city. I kept waiting to be told it was a dark and stormy night.
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on July 28, 2012
I honestly don't think Linda Fairstein wrote this. Alex is NOT true to her character in this latest book in the Alexandra Cooper series.

There are two incidents in the book that just fly in the face of how Alex has been portrayed in all the preceding books.

1. There are several characters who, when speaking to Alex, say "young lady". That is extremely disrespectful and condescending. I just don't believe Alex would take that crap from anyone.

2. Alex is standing at the elevator with another attorney, the Lem character I think, and he grabs her by the wrist and won't let her go. She tries to pull away but doesn't put up much of a fuss. Again, I don't see Alex, the head of a special victim crime unit, putting up with that crap. The Alex I'm used to in this series would have kneed him in the groin or knocked him into the wall.

I haven't finished the book yet, but I'm disappointed. I just don't think Fairstein wrote it--perhaps an intern or co-writer.
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VINE VOICEon July 19, 2012
I have read all of Linda Fairstein's "Alexandra Cooper" books and have enjoyed most of them, but not this one. It was actually a chore to get through it, and I definitely had the feeling that the author had had the same problem. The plot really doesn't make sense because the relationships between the villains and their henchpersons are only revealed at the very end and are tenuous, at best. Dialogue and interactions feel flat and implausible throughout the book. The best part of the book for me was the scene in which "gunshots" ring out at street level and the characters reassure one another by recalling the memo that indicated "Law and Order" would be filming there -- there is nothing like one fictional universe supporting the existence of another!
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on January 4, 2013
Having been born and raised in Jersey City, across the river from Manhatten, gave me a familiarity with the city and its environs. I have truly enjoyed her previous books both for location and her knowledge of the criminal underworld.
I accept that personal relationships {Luc} are part of a story. But, when they dominate the story to the point of overshadowing
the plot then I lose interest. Her books have been gradually turning more into love stories.
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