I haven’t read Ms Fairstein’s books in awhile, and I was surprised to discover this was #18 in the series about Alexandra Cooper, ADA for the sex crime unit in the New York DA’s office. I enjoyed the start of the series, but drifted away from murder mysteries until recently, when good romance books seemed elusive. The premise of this one sounded good – the death of a prominent player in the New York fashion scene, as per the blurb: High fashion means high stakes, as Alex Cooper quickly discovers when businessman and designer Wolf Savage is found dead in an apparent suicide, mere days before the biggest show of his career. When the man’s daughter insists Savage’s death was murder, the case becomes more than a media sensation: It is a race to find a killer in a world created entirely out of fantasy and illusion.
Sounds like a racy read, no? No, it wasn’t.
The book begins with Alex recovering from a traumatic experience in the last book, having been kidnapped. She’s on leave from work, and dealing with her PTSD by drinking too much rather than talking with any therapist. She’s become anxious and fearful, pushing away most of her friends. Her lover, detective Mike Chapman, had been a colleague for years, and to be honest, they don’t give off a very romantic vibe in this book. When Alex is approached by an old school chum about her father’s death, she decides to ask Mike to look into this, even though he wasn’t originally assigned the case. She tags along with him and his partner, Mercer, as they begin to poke into the case and discover that there is more to the death than first thought.
There’s plenty of motive and possible killers ranging from ex-wives to children both legitimate and illegitimate to other family members. Ms Fairstein does a good job of describing the fashion industry in New York, giving background and dropping designer names like glittery sequins. Unfortunately, the first two thirds of the book are endless dialogue as she and Mike talk to everyone involved to get information and he badgers her about drinking too much. It isn’t till the last third that action picks up, and everything falls into place to expose the killer but by then I had lost interest in who it was.
One of the other things that I didn’t enjoy was the way Mike was portrayed – he seemed dated, still calling women “broads”, and calling Alex “kid” or “blondie”. He was not as sympathetic to her PTSD as one would assume for being her significant other. I recall from past books that he and Alex had a good working relationship, their dialogue had been well written, but in this book things just didn’t seem right. He was a little too bossy with her, and she seemed too passive with him.
Overall, I was disappointed with this, and despite a twist at the end of the book, I don’t think I will return to the series again. Ms Fairstein needs to inject some new life into these characters, and let them grow into the new millennium rather than leave them stuck in the past.