Monday, October 8, 2007

Jenn's Review: Death Dance


Teaming up with longtime friends -- NYPD's Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace -- Assistant DA Alex Cooper investigates the disappearance of world-famous dancer Natalya Galinova, who has suddenly vanished backstage at Lincoln Center's Metropolitan Opera House -- during a performance.

The three colleagues are soon drawn into the machinations of New York City's secretive theatrical community, where ambition takes many forms, including those most deadly. Among Galinova's lovers is Joe Berk, the colorful, strong-willed boss of the Berk Organization, one of four family companies that own all the legitimate theaters on Broadway. The aging ballerina was using Berk to help revive her career at the time of her disappearance.
Cooper, Chapman, and Wallace go underground and backstage at the Met, explore Berk's unusual apartment on top of the Belasco Theatre with its rumored ghostly resident, and then discover bizarre circumstances at City Center, which has a peculiar history not one of them knew about until now.

Within the glamorous but sordid inner sanctums of the Broadway elite, the team confronts the ruthless power brokers who control both the stars and the stages where they appear. They meet Joe's niece Mona Berk, who is mounting a vicious campaign to extract her share of the family fortune, and stunning starlet Lucy DeVore, whose beauty may be her fatal undoing. Chet Dobbis is the artistic director of the Metropolitan Opera, and therefore privy to the most scandalous exploits among its famous inhabitants. He also knows every inch of the labyrinthine building into which the ballerina disappeared...

Meanwhile, Alex is working on a very different case, using a creative technique to nab a physician who has been drugging women in order to assault them. As Dr. Selim Sengor eludes capture, Alex must navigate the new investigative world of DFSA -- drug-facilitated sexual assault -- intent on proving him guilty.

Complicating her quest is the explosive legal and ethical dilemma of using the existing DNA databank to solve new cases. Can Alex convince a judge to let her prosecute a man for a violent crime using DNA that was collected for a prior case in which he was never charged? Or do the suspect's civil rights prevent law enforcement from keeping his DNA on file to be used against him at any future time?

Death Dance is a spellbinding thriller combining a former prosecutor's fresh insight into hot-button legal issues with the unique history and spectacle of New York theater, and its shocking twists make this novel Linda Fairstein's most chilling adventure yet.

Fairstein is one of those authors I don't read very often, and it always takes another book of hers to remind me why. It's not that she isn't a good author... she's very talented. Her plots are complicated, often involve several crimes and a plethora of suspects. For me, however, there are always too many stories and little sidebars, perhaps I need to read the Alex Cooper series in order, but I don't know that that would help. Fairstein always seems to have more story than fits into her books... too many cases that never tie up into a nice neat little package... too many suspects that appear and disappear. Granted she was a DA for 25 years and I'm sure that it's more realistic this way -life isn't a nice neat little package- but it always leaves me feeling slightly shorted at the end of a book... hey what happened to __________?

Enough about the series, let me focus on Dance of Death. I picked this book in particular out of the series as I'm slightly familiar with the setting of the central crime... a theatre. So while others may be intrigued by some of the background descriptions of the theatre and the intricacies of the fly system, I was glad she got it right but in a hurry to move on.

The suspects were many and the complications of being involved in three investigations at once made it harder for the characters to trace the personal attacks against Cooper back to one source or the other. The central crime was well laid out as was the solution... although I found the wrap up a bit far fetched... and the other two cases seemed to get shorted in the conclusion.

I don't understand the relationship between Chapman and Cooper, perhaps, again, this is because I don't read enough of the series, but there are all sorts of mixed signals and innuendo that comes in and out. I can't tell if either character is interested in the other because they both seem to be playing the "come here-get away" (worse than McDreamy and Meredith ) game a little too fast paced to even catch.

Although, this is a well written legal mystery, I've come to the conclusion that Fairstein is just not for me.

Overall 3.9/5.0


Julie October 8, 2007 at 1:57 PM  

Well is this your 2nd book or hers? My dad gave me Entombed to read a while ago and I decided not to read it. Looks like it's a good thing. :)

Jenn October 8, 2007 at 3:15 PM  

Her stories are solid... I just wish she'd pick one and stick with it.

Julie October 8, 2007 at 3:23 PM  

I think it was the summary that didn't grab me and we all know I have enough to read. :P

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