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The Kills    by Linda Fairstein order for
by Linda Fairstein
Order:  USA  Can
Scribner, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Have you noticed how high the bar is being raised in qualifications for mystery writers these days? Seems that a first career in a crime related field is almost a necessity, and this author certainly has strong credentials, with no less than twenty-five years as head of the Manhattan DA's Sex Crimes Unit. The Kills is an engaging new entry in Linda Fairstein's popular series about feisty assistant DA Alexandra Cooper (a sex crimes prosecutor), and her two cohorts (and good friends), NYPD detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace.

Alex, 'blondie' to her cop buddies, is getting ready to prosecute a trial. Weapons freak Andrew Tripping is accused of the rape of 36-year-old Paige Vallis, who admits going with him to his apartment, where (according to her story) she stayed, after witnessing Tripping's treatment of his 10-year-old son Dulles, in order to stop further abuse. It's not a strong case, and is further weakened by child welfare lawyers and psychologists, who block Alex's access to Dulles, and by last minute revelations from the victim. Complicating matters are a CIA connection, and the possibility of an involvement by Middle Eastern terrorists.

In parallel, Mercer involves Alexandra in the investigation of the murder of an elderly woman, McQueen Ransome, whose very colorful life included a stint as a Harlem Renaissance dancer, experiences as a WW II spy, and a fling as mistress of the 'Night Crawler', King Farouk of Egypt. It turns out that the two cases are linked by an old coin, the 'Double Eagle', issued in 1933 and with a fascinating history of its own. More than one lawyer is tainted by insider trading and charity scams, and many have family links back to wartime intelligence. And Alex's personal involvement and peril accelerates steadily to a violent crescendo of a conclusion in 'The Kills', water channels of Lower Manhattan.

I enjoyed the credible background on sex crimes, the historical connection, the competent, appealing heroine, and especially the ongoing banter amongst the investigative trio. This is a series I plan to follow.

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