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Still suffering from PTSD from her kidnapping during her last case, Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper is on medical leave. She and her NYPD detective partners, Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, are attending a fund-raising gala for the non-profit Wildlife Conservation Society at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She had dressed appropriately for a social event in order to stay incognito for what she thought would be a pleasant evening out for a worthy cause. Her boss, District Attorney Paul Battaglia, has been frantically trying to call her after seeing her on television, but she had left her cell phone behind since she is officially off duty. As she leaves the event, she is startled to see him charging up the steps of the museum, shouting her name. Suddenly a shot rings out, and Battaglia collapses on top of her, dead from an assassin’s bullet. Thus ended her last case in KILLER LOOK and dramatically opens a new one in DEADFALL.

"As in all good detective novels, there is more than chase and capture, cars and guns. Fairstein offers the rich tapestry of setting and the psychology behind the crime."

Total confusion reigns as Alex is bustled off for her own safety, but she finds out what it’s like to be on the other side of the table in the interrogation room being grilled, held as a “person of interest.” An aggressive agent known to be close to one of her adversaries in the DA’s office orders booking procedures and infers that she may even be a suspect in Battaglia’s murder. It is no news to anyone in the division that her relationship with the DA has deteriorated over the past year, especially recently. There is evidence on Battaglia’s phone that he called her three times over the past few hours, and her cell phone, left behind for the dressy occasion, is nowhere to be found.

Alex finds herself on the receiving end of a murder investigation --- being printed, photographed and tested for gunshot residue --- unsettling at the very least for a woman who is usually ordering those procedures for suspects herself. Traumatized by the events, she reacts in a very unlawyerly manner by not seeking her own attorney, and it is downhill from there.

The Alex Cooper we see in DEADFALL is not the same strong, self-sufficient, authoritative figure to which we have become accustomed. She finds herself strangely dependent on Mike, her partner not only in law enforcement but also in life --- a situation neither of them are used to. For her own protection, she must go into protective custody in a women’s facility, which pushes her to balk at the restrictions in ways that will endanger her life.

A trademark for each Fairstein novel (this is #19) centers on a New York City landmark, much to the delight of even the casual reader. This time it is the vast, magnificent Bronx Zoo, home to many endangered species and one of the city’s oldest and most popular attractions. Alex, along with Mike and Mercer, uncovers a shocking smuggling operation involving trafficking in banned elephant tusk ivory. Battaglia may have been getting too close to uncovering the illegal trade, or at the very least was closely involved with the prominent people behind it.

As in all good detective novels, there is more than chase and capture, cars and guns. Fairstein offers the rich tapestry of setting and the psychology behind the crime. As the former Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the DA’s office in New York City, and a longtime history buff, she brings to her books a level of authenticity like few other authors.

Fairstein now devotes her life to writing full time. Her father’s advice to follow her dreams has been fulfilled in ways she never thought possible --- both as a prominent civil attorney and as a hugely successful author. DEADFALL’s launch kicked off recently at a book-signing event in Scottsdale, Arizona, with none other than Marcia Clark (yes, the Marcia Clark of OJ Simpson prosecutor fame), who interviewed her live on the Poisoned Pen Bookstore’s Facebook page.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on July 28, 2017

by Linda Fairstein

  • Publication Date: July 3, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton
  • ISBN-10: 1101984066
  • ISBN-13: 9781101984062