Prosecutor Alexandra Cooper, head of the Manhattan DA’s Special Victims Unit, pursues a serial predator who has graduated to murder.
Airline desk agent Elise Huff has been missing a week from her job at La Guardia when the NYPD gets a report of a woman’s corpse in the old Battery Maritime Building. But the young woman who’s been handcuffed, tortured and strangled isn’t Elise; it’s Amber Bristol, a legal secretary who doubles as an escort and dominatrix. Elise’s body turns up in a desolate stretch of reeds near Brooklyn’s Belt Parkway, killed under circumstances that strongly suggest a serial murderer even before the discovery of the inevitable third victim on Bannerman Island. Alex would love to give her full attention to the crimes, but first she has to wrap up the 35-year-old case of a woman whose bail-jumping assailant, conclusively identified by DNA evidence unavailable in 1973, has to be tried under the antiquated rules of his original courtroom appearance. And Alex’s prosecution is hampered by the Latin Princes, a gang determined to harass her (and maybe worse) because she locked up their kingpin. Both cases feature all the gritty forensics, exhaustive procedural detail and moral outrage you’d expect of this franchise (Bad Blood, 2007, etc.). Both are atmospheric and absorbing enough to keep you turning pages until the nail-biting climax on Governors Island. But because Fairstein never develops a relation between the two cases, each one seems like a distraction from the other. And a string of intriguing subplots—a super with a history of beating his girlfriends, a journalist who dallied with the dominatrix, a turf battle with the FBI—only muddy the waters.
All of Fairstein’s accustomed strengths and weaknesses are on prominent display. Fans will love the result; nonfans aren’t likely to be converted.