Review

Killer Heat

by Linda Fairstein

Linda Fairstein is one of America's foremost legal experts on
crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence, and ran the Sex
Crimes Unit of the District Attorney's Office in Manhattan for more
than 20 years. Since 1996, Fairstein has been writing a series of
novels revolving around Alexandra Cooper, her fictitious alter ego,
who has peeled back the veil to reveal the methods by which the
D.A.’s office solves such crimes and the madness that serves
as the catalyst for them. Fairstein’s latest effort takes the
series to new territory and to new heights.

KILLER HEAT puts Cooper on the trail of a particularly vicious
killer who is brutalizing and murdering young women, and then
unceremoniously dumping their bodies in out-of-the-way places in
and around Manhattan. Initially it appears that there is little, if
anything, to connect these ladies to one another, aside from the
fact that they apparently have been unfortunate enough to intersect
with the assailant, who seems to come and go at will.

But as those familiar with the real world of a District Attorney's
office are all too aware, the workload is equal parts practicing
law and juggling cases. Accordingly, it happens that Cooper's
investigation occurs just as she is in the midst of trying a case
that hopefully will bring long-overdue closure to a victim who has
waited for over three decades for justice. Kerry Hastings was a
22-year-old graduate student when she was viciously raped. Floyd
Warren, her assailant, was captured, but jumped bail and fled
before his case came to trial. Now, some 35 years later, with her
attacker back in custody, Hastings is about to get her day in
court, and Cooper will have the opportunity to ensure that justice
is no longer denied.

As Cooper finishes her final preparations for Warren's trial,
however, common elements linking the victims of her other cases to
each other slowly begin to manifest themselves under the heat of
persistent investigation. The most intriguing of these is that the
murderer seems to have a fascination with military memorabilia.
This gains further significance when Cooper discovers that the
victims were all wearing uniforms, or clothing similar to military
garb, when they first went missing. But an even more crucial clue
is that they all appear to have a connection to Jimmy or Kiernan
Dylan, a father-son team who own a couple of bars and have a
penchant for serving attractive women who are too young to
imbibe.

The victims frequented their establishments, so at first Cooper and
her investigators feel that one or both of them are involved.
However, it takes an arrest and information from a totally
unexpected source before she realizes how wrong she is --- and yet
how close she is to finding the killer. When another young woman
suddenly goes missing, Cooper begins a race against time. She combs
a desolate and foreboding abandoned landscape outside of the urban
caverns of Manhattan, searching for a madman in the midst of the
fury of a tumultuous rainstorm, as the life of yet another innocent
victim --- and that of Cooper’s --- hangs in the
balance.

It is more than fair to assume that even if you think you know
Manhattan, Fairstein will take you to places you never have been
and probably never knew existed within a half hour’s journey
of familiar landmarks. Fans of the Cooper novels and police
procedurals in general will enjoy the D.A.’s dogged police
work and the ultimate uncovering of the perpetrator’s
identity, which is the result of equal combinations of hard work
and lucky but plausible breaks.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of KILLER HEAT, however, is the
activity surrounding Kerry Hastings, which is based on a real-world
occurrence in which the victim, Kathleen Ham, ultimately obtained
her measure of justice. It was Ham who asked Fairstein to tell her
story and to whom the book is dedicated. Considering the
author’s background, and her ability to intertwine the events
of this world with her fictitious one, it is no wonder that she and
Cooper have become exponentially better with each entry in this
series. KILLER HEAT is no exception.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

Killer Heat
by Linda Fairstein

  • Publication Date: March 11, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • ISBN-10: 0385523971
  • ISBN-13: 9780385523974