A little while back, my favorite Sunday ritual, CBS Sunday Morning, did a profile on Linda Fairstein. Such an unassuming name for a truly outstanding woman, I found her story completely fascinating. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately and with this episode of Sunday Morning, I knew I’d found my fix! So, why is Fairstein so interesting? Let me count the ways…first up, she spent 30 years prosecuting sex crimes in NYC so I’d say it’s fair to say she has a deep well of knowledge and practical experience to pull from for her stories. Fairstein was dubbed “Hell on Heels” because of her tenacity and determination to change the laws to make it easier for women to report rape and sex crimes and with her help, they actually stood a chance of winning their cases. Until this point, the laws were so archaic and antiquated, it was damn near impossible to even report rape, I mean, you had to have a witness, how many rapes actually have a witness? I mean, how glaring is that nugget, it basically gives the “he said” portion of he said/she said, more weight – a stigma we are still working to eliminate. Thank goodness Fairstein was there to help give women a voice and a path to justice. She was also a pioneer in DNA research as it relates to crimes. I mean, Fairstein was out there getting shit done when others didn’t think anything could be done. Not all heroes wear capes, but I think we are realizing many of them wear heels!
The Alexandra Cooper series is loosely based on Fairstein’s caseload. You know I love a well-researched book, one that teaches me something, anything, FINAL JEOPARDY doesn’t disappoint. Fairstein takes the gritty knowledge she’s developed over the years and wraps it into a compelling story, with a heroine that is strong and smart but still vulnerable. Alexandra Cooper is a special prosecutor in the Manhattan sex crimes unit. She’s well respected in her field and admired by her co-workers for being a dedicated and determined attorney. Fairstein deftly weaves the intricate procedural aspects of solving and gathering evidence in a case with the personal drama surrounding a single, career-minded woman in the Big Apple.
FINAL JEOPARDY kicks this series off with a bang, literally. Alex’s vapid celebrity friend, Isabella Lascar ends up with her head blown off while staying at Alex’s summer home on Martha’s Vineyard. This story is not sex crime related but DNA evidence does end up being a big deal. The rest of our cast consists of Jed, Alex’s beau, who is a pivotal character as he helps show Alex’s softer, vulnerable side. I think all of us strong women can relate to the way Alex pushes forward with her part of the investigation, even while under duress all while privately longing for some quiet time with her guy, just to get a hug and a little comfort. It’s a fine line to dance, admitting to yourself that you need affection while keeping your edge in a tough situation – Fairstein’s Cooper manages it beautifully. I’m completely speculating here but I think some of our other secondary characters, Mike, her trusted detective friend and David, her shrink friend next door with helpful insight into the workings of a criminal mind, will be series regulars. These secondary characters are richly developed and inhabit the pages as clearly as our hero, Alexandra.
Now, this book was originally published in 1996 and yes, some of the technology and language is a bit dated but, it doesn’t take away from the bigger arc of the story. Just roll with it and take yourself back to a time when you actually had to go home and check your answering machine to confirm plans for the evening! Oh, and for you young guns out there, beepers, embrace the beeper! FINAL JEOPARDY is a nicely paced procedural crime mystery, filled with specific details, shocking twists, interesting side stories/connections and most importantly, compelling characters you’ll quickly find yourself invested in and rooting for. I am 100% looking forward to continuing this series. Cooper is the type of heroine we can all enjoy and you know me, I’m tough on my heroines! LIKELY TO DIE is the second book and it’s already on my Kindle!
Smooches,Tags: 4 stars, Alexandra Cooper series, crime, Linda Fairstein, mystery, scandal, suspense