Most helpful critical review
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Alex Cooper stumbles
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.