ADA Alexandra Cooper of Manhattan’s Sex Crimes Office struggles to keep up with real-life New York scandal in her 12th not-entirely-ripped-from-the-headlines case.
When a Ukrainian vessel loaded with illegal immigrants, including 30 women earmarked for the lucrative American sex industry, goes aground within sight of its destination, Alex is among the first law-enforcement officials at the scene. Her heart moved for the thousandth time by the survivors’ laboriously translated tales of brutal oppression, she is determined to spend every ounce of her energy, along with that of former U.S. Attorney Donovan Baynes’ Joint Trafficking Task Force, in the quest to learn who ensured that at least one of the Jane Does didn’t survive. But the city that never sleeps keeps supplying high-profile diversions. First Baynes’ classmate Ethan Leighton, a congressman from the Upper West Side, is picked up for a DUI. Then his mistress, Mexican immigrant Salma Zunega, and their love child Ana go missing after she’s repeatedly called 911 on him, then denied ever placing the calls for help. When Salma is next seen, she’s been stabbed to death and tossed down a well on the grounds of Gracie Mansion. (You won’t believe where Ana finally turns up.) Every politician in the city seems to be implicated, most of them inspired by unwilling tabloid hogs like Bernard Kerik, Eliot Spitzer and John Edwards. Even as she rehashes recent juicy scandals, Fairstein dishes out a steady stream of tourist-grade background info on Archibald Gracie and the mansion he built. But all this historical exposition, which often threatens to sink Alex’s cases (Lethal Legacy, 2009, etc.), becomes surprisingly relevant when a rose-shaped tattoo links high crimes and low, and Alex realizes that her distinguished colleagues are actually suspects.
Thrills, gossip, sex, history, self-righteous indignation and hints of parallels to the contemporary rich and famous, all whipped to a fine frenzy. Fairstein’s most potent cocktail since Entombed (2005).