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Lethal Legacy    by Linda Fairstein Amazon.com order for
Lethal Legacy
by Linda Fairstein
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

I am definitely a fan of Linda Fairstein's. She can't write fast enough to suit me. I just put down her latest Lethal Legacy. As usual, her research is phenomenal. She lays out the history of The New York Public Library and makes it seem like a place in which to be comfortable. I have always been in awe when entering that wonderful building, much as I feel in the British Museum in London. Fairstein has not only made the Library feel accessible but has delved into the depths of its past and discovered many of the people who endowed the Library as well as leaving valuable book collections as their legacy to the city.

Manhattan Assistant DA Alex Cooper is called to the scene where a woman has been assaulted. The woman, Tina Barr, is a young conservator who works for the Library but then disappears after the assault and is ultimately found murdered. When another woman (slightly connected to the Library) is also found murdered, the plot thickens. As more and more people, or their collections, are pulled into the plot, the Library becomes as much a character as the place where some of the action occurs. Alex and her two partners become intertwined in the machinations of the running of this vast public institution. There are eighty-eight miles of books housed in an extension under Bryant Park, which was once the site of a potter's field for casualties of the Revolutionary War, and is where the majority of the Library's books are kept. More and more of the fascinating history is unveiled as tension and suspense grows.

When readers can't stand much more anxiety, Fairstein tosses another bone and they are in for the long haul. The characters are as fascinating as the building and the plot. A one-handed map collector lives in a vast apartment that was once a hospital. There's a notorious map thief, and a maid who is found dead with the first book published in this country clutched in her hand. It can't get any better than this.

Alex hasn't much time to polish a romantic attachment, but she does manage to see her Luc, a Parisian who sends just the right vibes. Their time together when he is in New York is often disturbed by the vagaries of her position in the District Attorney's office. Hope she doesn't blow this relationship.

Fairstein has been prosecuting sex offenders for over twenty years and has probably seen just about everything. She uses some of her actual cases in her mysteries, real names not included of course. Her books seem more finely tuned and the mysteries more mysterious with each one written. And after so long in her job, she must have material for many more novels to come. Let's hope so.

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