Terminal City
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2014
Fairstein's latest thriller is very much the same as her last couple of ones. She entwines her murder mystery with history of a particular slice of NYC. This time it is Grand Central. While it is always fun to learn about the history of these places, the way she incorporates them is becoming increasingly awkward with each book. There were several points where the text sounded more like a lecture or a treatise than a novel, and it distracts from the story.

However, that is small beans compared to how badly the character of Alex continues to degrade. When Fairstein started this series, Alex Cooper was strong and smart and a match for any killer. She took matters in to her own hands. In the last several books she has become the person that things are done to. She is always stressed, scared, shaking and swigging so much booze that you wince for her liver. The men in her life lead her around by the nose. Alex is the one being saved. She might come up with some information or get a witness to spill some details, but overall she is largely a victim. That is not the Alex Cooper that we have come to know and love.

Another major problem is Fairstein's attempt to put Alex and Mike Chapman together. I've thought the maturation of that relationship was long overdue, but I get the feeling that Fairstein is being pushed into it. The scenes between Alex and Mike are written so poorly that they are painful to read. Mike isn't just fast with a quip these days; he's a total jerk. And Alex is a jerk right back to him. They go from insulting each other to publicly discussing their possible future union. It makes no sense and it is not believable at all.

There is another relationship in Alex's life that makes no sense; Battaglia. From the start he has been a real a-hole. He's narcissistic, petty, vain, and power-hungry. He treats Alex, and pretty much everyone else, like crap. Yet in each book, Fairstein makes it a point to have Alex say how much she admires him. Why? He seems to stand for everything that Alexandra Cooper hates. I have never thought her relationship with him made sense and it makes less and less sense as the series goes on.

Like some other authors who write long series, Patricia Cornwell comes to mind, Fairstein has started to lose the thread of a much-beloved character. If you go back and read the first five Alex Cooper novels you see a different woman. Fairstein's fascination with history and her own politics are coming to the forefront far too much. (In case you wondered, she obviously hates Mayor Bloomberg with a passion as the mayor of NY in this book is a complete dunce.) If she has run out of stories or is no longer interested in writing about Alex, then it is time to bid the character a fond farewell. She deserves better than to become this mewling, whining victim that Fairstein has given us in the last few books. Let her roar as she once did, or let her go quietly into the night. I will read the next book but if there is no improvement, I will sadly abandon the series.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2014
I have read and enjoyed all of Fairstein's books, but not this one. When I read, I usually savor each word; instead, I found myself rushing through the last few chapters to make it terminate more quickly. What happened to the strong, intelligent, confident, and competent Alex Cooper we've come to love? She's been replaced with a whining adolescent who's descending into alcoholism. With respect to Alex's blossoming relationship with Mike Chapman, either get it on or let it go. With their sniping and sarcasm, it seems like Alex and Mike are on the verge of divorce rather than heading toward the altar. I've been to Grand Central Terminal and the Oyster Bar and appreciate the historical references Fairstein weaves through her novels. Unfortunately, this one didn't stop me in my tracks.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2014
This author was once one of my favorites but the last few books have become formulaic. The central mystery is hardly a mystery at all. At least half the book is devoted to a history of Grand Central Terminal. While that may be an interesting story, it's not what I want to read in a detective story. The ongoing "love story" with Mike is beyond childish. This is the last book I will read by this author.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2014
This was a disappointment. Where do I begin? First, the entire plot was confusing with a lot of loose ends left dangling. I'm still not sure about the unsubs motivation but I won't spoil it for others by revealing the book's weak explanation. The history lesson which (as a retired history teacher) I look forward to, was confusing and very draggy. Last of all, the relationship between Mike and Coop is sophomoric to say the least. Alex Cooper acts like she's in the throes of a junior high romance, over-analyzing everything Mike says, demanding to know where he is at all times. The improbability of the President insisting on arriving by train in a terminal where there's been three murders is the ultimate improbability and no good explanation is ever given for this. Too much sloppy plotting in this book.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2014
This was one of Fairstein's more mediocre efforts until she unleashed an attack on the present mayor of New York City, who is thinly disguised here. Her beef with the mayor stems from Fairstein's role as prosecutor in the Central Park Jogger case which saw five teenagers (four African American, one Hispanic) sent to prison for a crime they did not commit. One only has to watch video of their coerced confessions to see that the cops were completely out of line. (If you don't believe that innocent people can be forced to confess, read John Grisham's non-fiction book "The Innocent Man.") Some of these young men spent up to 13 years in prison for the crime (the rape and brutal assault of a female jogger) that was eventually confessed to (with DNA substantiating his guilt) by the actual perpetrator. New York Mayor Bill De Blassio vowed to settle the lawsuit brought by the five wrongly-convicted (now) men and recently did so for $40 million.

Fairstein, to her eternal shame, refused to admit that the evidence absolved the five and has fought against any kind of settlement for the years they lost in prison. In reading her latest, I was willing to overlook her role in this judicial disaster but when she started grinding her ax in the middle of the book and began character-assassinating the fictional De Blassio, I felt she was dragging her readers down into the muddy swamp that she has found herself in. As a mystery writer she is more than adequate but I do not like being part of the revenge plans of a failed prosecutor (in one of her more famous cases she failed to get a murder conviction of "Preppy Killer" Robert Chambers).

As for the book itself: it comprises lots of facts about Grand Central Terminal collected by her researchers and some nauseating banter between her protagonist Alex Cooper and Detective MIke Chapman. If Ms. Fairstein wants to attack the mayor or defend her questionable actions in the prosecution and imprisonment of five innocent boys she should write a book about the case ot take out an ad in the New York Times. What she shouldn't do is drag her characters and readers into the quagmire.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2014
Long, actionless dialogue about whatever NYC topic Fairstein is "educating" us about now? Check.
Alex gets verbally attacked by a male attorney who calls her names? Check.
Chapman bullies and teases her to the point that he should be slapped? Check.
Alex ignores Chapman's verbal attacks anyway? Check.
Alex does something stupid and finds herself shaking and terrified, in the clutches of a killer? Check.
Alex is presented as head of a large department within the DAs office, and yet she interviews only one person and spends the rest of the time running around with Mercer and Chapman? Check.
WAY too much emphasis on Jeopardy? CHECK.
When this series started, these books were a fun read. They have fallen off and I probably won't be reading any more. Too bad Alex is no longer strong and competent, and Chapman is a big jerk. Mercer could be interesting, but he's the quiet calm one who gets very little time in the spotlight.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2014
No question this novel has to be Linda Fairstein's swan song. It was so dull and wordy that I ended up flipping through the last third of the book and put it down feeling hard done by. This is not the Fairstein I remember from earlier books and Alexandra is so far from the bright intelligent woman she once was it's pathetic. And, I'm so sick of hearing the same drivel about the wedding eve car crash, the miraculous invention that made her rich, the smell of Luc's sweaters in the Nantucket chest of drawers that she's going to send him rather than just throw them in the bin. Yuck to all of it. I'm with you early reviewers who think that a love relationship between Coop and Mike is just ridiculous. Bye-Bye Coop and bye-bye Linda.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2014
Not up to par with most of her previous books. Ms. Fairstein has educated us in much of the history of many of NYC's more interesting historical buildings and sites in Manhattan but this one was dull and tedious. I just scanned several chapters trying to find a lead back to the story which was far fetched and dull. It also seems as though Alex Cooper has lost her "edge". She's rapidly becoming a "Lifetime Movie of the Week" kind of woman. I'm a mature, grown, woman who knows no other women who act or talk like Ms Cooper. She's starting to sound silly and more like a New York Housewife than an experienced Prosecutor. Throwing around the "labels" of what suit some guy is wearing or what brand of linens she has on her bed along with what designer she's wearing is gratuitous and annoying. The plot and story were also so unbelievable as to be almost a bad "B" movie.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2014
In this latest Alex Cooper novel, the assistant DA and her partners, Detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, seek the killer of a young woman whose body was found in a supposedly unregistered room in New York City's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. A second body found in a nearby alley soon after appears to have been committed by the same person because of unusual markings carved on both bodies.
The investigation quickly leads them to Grand Central Terminal where, true to Linda Fairstein's form of visiting NYC landmarks, the reader is taken on an informative exploratory tour of the structure, from its sub-basements to the tunnels and up to highest levels. The history of the building and its surrounding area is also presented. The tunnels have become home to many homeless people and their culture is examined.
To complicate the situation, the President of the United States is due to come to NYC to address the United Nations in a two days and plans to arrive by train at the Terminal.
The teams' familiar routines continue: Jeopardy, relationships, eating and drinking together.
The relationship of the new mayor of New York to the police department and prosecutor's office is also discussed. The day before I read this book, the mayor announced that $40 million was being paid to the Central Park Five, five minority teenagers arrested and jailed for the rape and attack on a white jogger in Central Park ten years ago. Another person later admitted he had committed the crime without anyone else being involved. Linda Fairstein was the prosecutor for the case and in a television interview disagrees with the mayor's actions for the reasons given in the book. [...]. [...]

The book has some unnecessary repetition, e.g. mentioning Alex's exact height more than once. It also has a subplot that doesn't add to the plot.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2014
Terminal City started out quite interesting, but it very rapidly deteriorated in a pointless, not well thought out story, and I found it very disappointing. What I did really like was the new direction of Alexandra, and her new romance that was great fun , but the story itself wasn't very good, thank goodness I didn't waste money on it, I got it from the library. I didn't like the book that came out directly before this one either, and the few that came out before that, what I did like were some of her earlier books that Ms. Fairstein wrote about 6-8 years ago, but most of the books sadly she's written in the past 3-5 years have been very mediocre to really bad writing and on a scale of 1-10 I'd give most of the later books about a 2. Sadly most of the later books including Terminal City have rather stupid , rather pointless story lines, and endings that she kind of pulls out nowhere, she'll find interesting NY structure , and try to have a whole mystery based around that, and it mostly doesn't work well, it's a shame that the later books have gone downhill from the early mysteries.
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