There’s no peace for Manhattan Sex Crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper, whose vacation on the Riviera is interrupted by two crimes, one outside her bailiwick, one inside, and both very uncomfortable indeed.
After a gratuitous brush with a handful of skulls left outside the restaurant owned by her sweetie Luc Rouget, Alex learns of a far more disturbing development when the body of Lisette Honfleur, who’d been helping Luc with the books at Le Relais a Mougins, is fished from Fontmerle Pond. No one’s asking Alex to investigate Lisette’s murder, but she can’t help being concerned about how close the dead girl might have been to Luc, especially since she had a matchbox labeled “LUTECE,” the legendary New York restaurant Luc plans to reopen, in her pocket. Before Alex can do more than wonder about the murder, she’s abruptly reeled back to Manhattan by her boss, New York County District Attorney Paul Battaglia. Blanca Robles, a Guatemalan chambermaid at the Eurotel, has accused hotel guest Mohammed Gil-Darsin, head of the World Economic Bureau and aspiring president of Ivory Coast, of rape, and she’s got the DNA evidence to prove it—or at least to prove that there was a sexual encounter. As Blanca’s credibility plummets, Fairstein (Silent Mercy, 2011, etc.) creates a compelling narrative by the simple expedient of plundering news stories about the remarkably similar accusations against Dominique Strauss-Kahn. But lest Alex assume she can forget about Lisette now that she’s up to her neck in this new case, the corpse of unemployed waiter Luigi Calamari is pulled from Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal with a matchbox marked “LUTECE” in his pocket, threatening to cut off Alex’s romance with Luc at the root.
Not surprisingly, the case ripped from the headlines is much more absorbing than the tale of restaurant malfeasance and imperiled love. Alex’s 14th is distinctly below average for this bestselling series.