Review: Assistant DA Alexandra "Alex" Cooper gets involved with a series of murders, the victims bodies left near Manhattan churches, in Silent Mercy, the 13th mystery in this series by Linda Fairstein.
The first murder is particularly gruesome, the headless body of a young woman, which had also been set afire, on the steps of a Baptist church in Harlem. Alex and NYPD homicide detective Mike Chapman direct their attention initially to Wilbur Gaskin, a member of the congregation of the Harlem church, who appears at the scene of the second victim — another church, this one Catholic — who had had her tongue cut out before her throat was slit, and later to the brother of one of the victims, who acts in a suspicious manner … but all to little avail. Believing the religious connections to be more than a coincidence, Alex and Chapman struggle to find a link between the two woman, one that may lead them to identify the motive and finally the killer before he strikes again.
It's not always clear why Alex's presence is required at all the crime scenes, and why she's so involved in this case in the first place. For the most part, she seems like a fifth wheel, contributing little. (The "Final Jeopardy" bit, where she and her colleagues rely on their respective esoteric knowledge of uncommon subjects, however, is cleverly integrated into the story.) She shines, though, when she's doing her job as a prosecutor. Indeed, her best showing is when she's in the courtroom cross-examining a bishop on the possible cover-up of a scandal in the church, a brief scene that is, at best, tangential to the book's primary murder investigation. Finally, the history tours of Manhattan churches and, later, Cape Cod institutions, are interesting in and of themselves and provide a rich backdrop to the story, though the connection between how the case is wrapped up and the motive behind the murders is a bit of a stretch.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided a copy of Silent Mercy for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Dutton (Hardcover), July 2013
ISBN-13: 9780525953876; ISBN-10: 0525953876
Location(s) referenced in Silent Mercy: New York City, Cape Cod
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Silent Mercy by Linda Fairstein — An Alex Cooper Mystery
Publication Date: March 2011
List Price: $26.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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