Linda Fairstein's latest release, Night Watch, marks the fourteenth book in her highly successful Alex Cooper series.
This has been one of my favourite crime series over the years. Alex works in the New York P.D. Sex Crimes Unit. Fairstein herself Linda Fairstein was chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan for more than two decades and is a legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence. This gives her novels that unmistakable ring of truth and attention to detail - only one of the things that has kept me coming back to read the newest novel.
In Night Watch, Alex has headed over to France to visit with her latest love - Luc, a Michelin three star restaurant owner. When a young woman is found murdered in the idyllic French village, the local constabulary suspects Luc - there are connections he has neglected to mention that look suspicious. Also suspicious are the old skulls and bones left on his home's doorstep. Alex has plans to stay in France for two weeks, but a desperate plea from her partners Mike and Mercer and a distinct order from her boss have her heading back to New York. A high level diplomatic and world figure is being accused of rape by a hotel maid. (yep, lots of similarities to recent headlines)
Mike and Mercer are another one of the reasons I love this series. Fairstein has created a wonderful group of protagonists - each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Mike is brash, bold and fearless. Mercer is quieter, thoughtful and thinks before he acts or speaks. But the three of them together make for a team that gets results. The camaraderie between these three has grown and solidified over the course of many years. Of the two supporting characters, I prefer Mercer and would like to see him more of a larger storyline.
Luc is also planning to open a high end restaurant in New York. Cleared to travel, he heads to oversee his new enterprise.....but a second body is found.....again, with ties to Luc. Is Luc really the man Alex thought he was? Is he telling the truth or is someone railroading him? Between those worries and the fact that the witness in the high stakes rape case keeps changing her tune, Alex is spreading herself awfully thin. And it shows.
In Night Watch, Alex doesn't seem to have the same forceful personality I've come to love. Yes, she is still on top of her legal game. But, her relationship with Luc seems to have her making excuses and behaving out of character. Maybe part of it is that I really don't like Luc at all. He makes numerous misogynistic and racist comments in the first few opening chapters. They're quite offensive and I can't believe Coop doesn't take umbrage with them. Her mooning about their relationship and Mike's willingness to feed that neediness just plain rubbed me the wrong way.
The third thing I love about Fairstein's novel is the New York history she always weaves into her novels. This time it's about the Prohibition era and the various ways that the ban was circumvented. I found the piece on 21 restaurant fascinating and went crawling the web to read more.
I'm still a big fan of this series and will happily pick up the next book. While I enjoyed Night Watch, it just fell a little flat for this reader. All the right pieces were there - all that was missing was the Alex I know. My advice - dump Luc. Read an excerpt of Night Watch.
You can find Linda Fairstein on Facebook and on Twitter.
What did other bloggers on the TLC tour think? See the full schedule here.
Thanks to the lovely folks at Dutton Books, I have a copy of Night Watch to giveaway. Open to US and Canada. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends July 29.