About the BookSmart, sexy, Manhattan assistant DA Alexandra Cooper--hero of Linda Fairstein's increasingly popular series--is taking her latest murder case very personally. Lola Dakota, abused wife and brilliant university professor, wouldn't cooperate when Cooper wanted to charge her ex-husband with assault. So when she's murdered, he's the logical suspect--except that he had been arrested just before the murder. So Alex needs another suspect.
Unable to protect Lola alive, Alex is determined to find the killer and bring him to justice. All she has to go on is a scrap of paper in the murdered woman's pocket with the words "The Deadhouse" on it, along with a series of numbers. Deciphering the clue leads Alex and Mike Chapman, her favorite homicide cop, to an abandoned gothic hospital on New York's Roosevelt Island, where smallpox victims went to die a century ago. Because of its history, the Deadhouse held a special attraction for Lola and for several of her university colleagues; and, as it turns out, almost all these deftly drawn minor characters had a reason to want Lola dead. Illuminating their personalities and motives gives Fairstein an opportunity to skewer the academic infighting that goes on at an elite Ivy League school.
The author's background as head of the New York district attorney's Sex Crime Unit is just one of the many assets she brings to her fast-paced, intricately plotted thrillers. What makes this one a standout is the wealth of historical detail about 19th-century New York, which adds an extra dimension of verisimilitude to an engrossing, atmospheric, and suspenseful read. --Jane Adams