Executive Times






2008 Book Reviews


Killer Heat by Linda Fairstein








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Linda Fairstein presents another Alex Cooper novel titled, Killer Heat. The action starts with the discovery of a badly decomposed female body in an abandoned building near the Staten Island Ferry. Over the next few hundred pages, Fairstein takes readers all around New York as a serial killer seems to have a special interest in woman in uniform. Here’s an excerpt, from the beginning of Chapter 3, pp. 20-22:


“They didn't threaten me. They're way too smart for that." I dropped the case folder on top of my desk.

"Why can't Lamont just boot their asses out?" Mercer Wallace asked.

"They didn't do anything. Nothing except sound effects that won't show on the record. By the time we figured it out they were gone."

"And tomorrow?" Mercer was a first-grade detective assigned to the NYPD's elite Special Victims Unit. He had painstakingly: reconstructed the case against Floyd Warren and wanted it to proceed without complications.

"Lamont says he'll deal with it if they come back. It's a public court- room. He can tighten the security but you know he'll never, seal it."

"More than that, I know you can't play with the Latin Princes, Alex. To Posano, you're the face of evil. You're the one who put him in jail, when he figured he had everyone else scared away. You stood in front of him day after day, building your case and arguing to the jury, dancing circles around his mouthpiece. It became way too personal with him."

"He's got years to get over it."

"His crew is too vicious.. They may not realize you've got some tough innards beneath that pretty packaging. And some powerful re­inforcements covering your tail."

I didn't question Mercer's warning. In the last year alone, the Dominican gang leader had ordered the unsuccessful hit of a federal judge who had presided over a drug case that sent three of his lieutenants to jail and intimidated scores of witnesses from appearing in a handful of related grand jury investigations.

"If harassing me is what they wanted, consider it done." I sat down in front of the air conditioner and lifted my hair to let the cool air blow on the back of my neck. "What's the word on Kerry?"

"The flight is on the ground in Chicago. Severe thunderstorms. I don't think she'll land before ten tonight, but I'll pick her up and take her to the hotel."

Kerry Hastings was a twenty-two-year-old graduate student when Floyd Warren broke into her Greenwich Village apartment and raped her. The 1973 trial had been another assault—on her truthfulness, on her integrity, on her spirit—and when the jury failed to agree on a ver­dict, she retreated from her once pleasant life even further. Mercer was one of the few people who had engendered her trust, from the time of his first phone call, astounding her with the news that she might achieve some measure of justice after all these years.

"I'd still like to have her here at seven thirty in the morning. I want to go over her testimony once more."

"I have the feeling she'll be better rested than you."

"I'm set. Who could imagine that this case would be easier for me to try now than it was for my predecessor thirty-five years ago? Easier for Kerry, too."

"Chapman's here to suck a little more of that energy out of you." "Where?"

"Down the hall in the conference room. Got someone with him."

I stood up, fanning myself with the manila folder that held Pablo Posano's posttrial motions and his inmate number at the maximum se­curity prison where he was serving time. "I'll check it out. You want to call Attica for me? See if we can get a list of Posano's visitors and his phone log?"

"Sure." Mercer reached for the file as I walked out of the room. The corridors emptied out earlier than usual during the hot summer days. There were fewer trials as lawyers, judges, and witnesses es­caped the city on vacation. Government workers were allowed to leave their offices on afternoons when temperatures, threatening to overload the electrical power grids, climbed above ninety-five degrees. It was six fifteen and the executive wing of the trial division was quiet.

I pushed open the door and saw Mike sitting across the conference table from a young woman who was talking to him. A handful of snapshots were spread out in front of her, and Mike was studying two of them as she spoke.

"Here she is," he said. "Alexandra Cooper, I'd like you to meet Janet Bristol."

The most obvious thing about her when she looked up was the redness and swelling around her eyes. I wasn't surprised. It was rare for me to meet someone for the first time, professionally, who had much to smile about.

"Janet showed up at the First this morning," Mike said. "She saw the squib in the Post. The one about the body."

"I haven't had a chance to read the newspapers .today."

Mike handed me a story—three short paragraphs-buried deep in the back of the news section of the tabloid. "MARITIME BATTERY . . . AND ASSAULT: TERMINAL. The naked remains of an unidentified woman were found yesterday evening in the abandoned offices above the ag­ing ferry slip ...”

"Janet's afraid the victim might be her sister. We may need you on this, Coop."

"Thank you for coming in. I know how difficult it must be for you."

"I doubt that you do." Her comeback was fast and sharp.

"We're on our way to the medical examiner's office. Janet's going to try to make an ID."

Standing in front of the morgue's viewing window was one of the most painful steps a family member was forced to endure in the course of an investigation. Nothing could prepare Janet for the condition of the face and body she was about to see.

"How can I help?”


Whether you’ve read earlier Fairstein novels or not, Killer Heat is likely to bring you heart thumping reading pleasure.


Steve Hopkins, August 15, 2008



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The recommendation rating for this book appeared

 in the Seeptember 2008 issue of Executive Times


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