04 April 2011

Book Review: Silent Mercy

The latest in the Alexandra Cooper series, this book started with a burnt body being discovered on the steps of a church. The church is behind a tall, locked gate, and the church itself is locked. How did the body get there? Cooper, her close friends and police officers Mercer and Chapman, begin investigating this murder when another burnt body at a neighbouring church shows up.

Meanwhile, Cooper is attending to her daily duties as the chief of the Sex Crimes division of the District Attorney's office of New York City. In this book, it means stepping into a volatile trial involving a defrocked priest accused of improper behaviour with a student, and then handling a sticky situation with the family of a student who may have exaggerated a rape claim.

The things I like about Fairstein's books were still here - great chemistry between the Cooper and her two main friends, Mercer and Chapman. As usual, I like seeing a strong female character in fiction who is also capable of having friendships with men (read: she isn't seen as a "ballbuster" or a bitch to be steered clear of).  And the nice in-joke of Cooper and Chapman always going out of their way to catch that day's "Final Jeopardy" question and making bets on it is fun (thus the first book in the series being named "Final Jeopardy.")

The things that I dislike, though, are still there, which is why Fairstein has been relegated to library-status (for local friends - I still have several Fairstein's up for grabs if you're interested!). She repeats certain details in every book that really don't need to be there. Even if this was my first book, I don't NEED to know that she is wealthy because her father invented a diddly-do that was once used in every heart surgery way back when. Or that Chapman became a policeman because his father blah blah blah.

I also read these stories for the great plotlines, the suspense, and the trial scenes. If I wanted lessons on New York City history and architecture, I could take classes or get entire books on those. And enough on lecturing me about how a woman or girl dresses doesn't mean she deserved to be raped. While I understand that Fairstein probably DID need to educate policemen and juries on this point in her actual job before she became a novelist, she doesn't need to use her fiction books to educate her readers. Or, if she wants to, find a better way to do it (for instance, her actual non-fiction book). At this point, I can usually spot the lecture coming and just skip the next page. It's tedious, especially after several books.

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