Friday, May 29, 2009

"Lethal Legacy" by Linda Fairstein

You can usually rely upon Linda Fairstein for an entertaining, if forgettable, mystery thriller. This time around, sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper, homicide detective Mike Chapman and sex crimes detective Mercer Wallace are drawn into a mystery involving the scrupulous folk who collect rare books. And rare maps. It seems somebody is willing to kill to get hold of the 12 parts of some ancient map.

The funny thing about Fairstein's books is that although two of the main characters work in sex crimes, the novels are never about that. The word count is usually padded out with some of Alex's cases, but they have nothing to do with the central plot. The central plot is generally an excuse for Fairstein to show off her knowledge of New York history. This is particularly evident in "Lethal Legacy" as just about every other page has one of the main or ancillary characters sounding off about some historical factoid. It gets to the point where you feel like saying: "just get on with it, already!" Of course, you don't actually say that, because talking to yourself would make you look strange....

The other thing that irks me about Fairstein's books is the relationship between Cooper and Chapman. Some of the things he says to her are downright vulgar and sexist and border on sexual harrassment, yet she never seems terribly bothered by it. She never has a go at him, yet he is constantly on her back with a ridiculously harsh putdown. I'm stunned that an author who so obviously is a champion of women's rights could create a main character that would put up with this behaviour. And I'm sure even the most loutish slob would cringe at some of the things Mike Chapman says. To be fair, it seems toned down in "Lethal Legacy", so maybe someone finally pointed out to Fairstein just how out-of-touch she was when it came to creating a male-female friendship.

Give Linda Fairstein a go if you like your crime on the lighter side. It's not quite as tame as Mary Higgins Clark, but generally shies away from the gore you find in most crime fiction.

1 comment:

  1. It was me who pointed it out. As in, I screamed so loudly when I came across the first piece of puerile crap that Chapman uttered, I'm pretty sure Ms Fairstein would have heard me over in N'Yawk and decided to tone it down. I'm going to have to give up on her books, they drive me nuts. Even if the Chapman character moves out of the 1950s, you've still got to contend with the way Fairstein writes about the relationship between Alex and the French bloke. Pukeroni.