Brilliant political science professor Lola Dakota’s abusive spouse Ivan Kralovic has threatened to kill her, so when she winds up murdered it’s a fair assumption he’s the perp. But then District Attorney Alexandra Cooper (Cold Hit, 1999), in charge of New York City’s Sex Crimes Unit, hears of the note found in Lola’s pocket and halts the rush to judgment. “The deadhouse” is all the note says, but Alex intuits a complication. Over the past two years, during which she helped keep Lola safe from Ivan’s tender mercies, she’s gained insights into a secretive, complex nature and, smart cookie that she is, decides to widen the net. The fact is, stormy petrel Lola had a variety of enemies (on the King’s College faculty, for instance) no less dedicated than her oafish husband. Still, it’s “the deadhouse” that really resonates. Soon enough, Alex learns of the dark history of New York’s Roosevelt Island, which in the 19th century was a macabre terminus to which smallpox sufferers were regularly packed off to die in one of the out-buildings: the deadhouse. Lola’s interest in the place was not unrivaled, since things more enticing than old skeletons (baubles costly and glittery, anyone?) might well have been buried there.
When Assistant D.A Fairstein (head of Manhattan’s Sex Crimes Unit) has Assistant D.A. Cooper going about her daily prosecutorial chores, the result is authoritative and interesting—unlike, say, when the whodunit is dragged out, and the gooey love affair dragged in.