Review

Hell Gate

by Linda Fairstein

A Ukrainian cargo ship runs aground in the middle of a cold
winter night at the tip of Manhattan Island. Panicking passengers
jump overboard when official-looking boats approach with
searchlights. When several bodies wash ashore in the early hours of
New Year’s Day, many of them very young teenaged girls who
may likely be illegal human cargo, New York Special Victims Unit
attorney Alexandra Cooper is called to the scene.

Alex’s longtime friend and fellow investigator, New York
City homicide detective Mike Chapman, is already on the scene after
the discovery of possible evidence that indicates one of the dead
young women may have been a victim of murder. While her
circumstances bear similarity to the others from the ship, somehow
the pieces don’t quite fit. Mounting evidence points to the
victim having a connection to some very high-profile New York
politicians with connections from City Hall all the way to
Washington. 

Human trafficking, a growing problem in America’s major
port cities, has led to the appointment of a special task force to
investigate and bring to justice the “snakeheads” who
benefit from selling young refugee girls into prostitution. They
are lured to America by promises of jobs and schooling by men in
their native Third World countries, only to find that they are
pawns in a multimillion-dollar sex-trade industry. The Task Force
--- on which Alex serves, along with other law enforcement
officials with whom she has served in her career --- includes a
cadre of prominent community leaders, politicians and police
officials. Is one or more of them personally involved? 

Alex and Mike unravel the possible ties between the murdered
girl and the illegal human cargo from the Ukrainian ship, which
lead to a trail of cover-ups that involve some of New York’s
highest profile dignitaries, including some trusted
acquaintances.  Their personal relationship, as confused and
complicated as the crimes they solve, heats up as Alex’s life
is seriously threatened. 

Linda Fairstein, a 25-year veteran of the Manhattan District
Attorney’s office as chief of the Sex Crimes division, writes
with authenticity and page-turning verve in her latest crime
thriller. Fairstein is an avid scholar of New York’s often
dark and sinister past, especially as a haven for the slave trade.
She brought to light a part of that history in LETHAL LEGACY, where
the former Civil War Potter’s Field burial grounds beneath
Bryant Park played a major role. This time, Hell Gate, the
treacherous waterway in the estuary that runs between Manhattan
Island and the mainland, shares star billing with other famous New
York City historical places. The book explores the sometimes dark
past of Gracie Mansion, the official but often uninhabited home to
past famous mayors, Alexander Hamilton’s original homestead
and other familiar landmarks, and whets the appetite for historical
exploration of this great city. 

Often, series are dependent on returning fans who are familiar
with all the characters. HELL GATE stands on its own, and new
readers will easily be able to sort out the colorful cast to become
new devotees. As fresh and current as today’s news, this
multi-layered novel will appeal especially to fans of the many
popular true crime TV series. As a bonus, readers will be taken on
a historical thrill ride of the Big Apple.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 22, 2011

Hell Gate
by Linda Fairstein

  • Publication Date: March 9, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult
  • ISBN-10: 052595161X
  • ISBN-13: 9780525951612