The Kills

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper prepares for her trial against Andrew Tripping for the rape of Paige Vallis, it appears it will be a difficult case to win, despite its lack of complications. It’s Paige’s word against Tripping’s. The victim has no injuries to show. She claims that following a date with Tripping, he took her to his apartment and forced her to have sex with him by threatening to do physical harm to his son Dulles, who was in a nearby room. Before the trial has even begun, Cooper suffers two further setbacks: Dulles Tripping has disappeared into the city’s Child Welfare system, whose representatives are refusing to provide him to give testimony. Then Cooper’s second witness—Tripping’s city jail cellmate—escapes from police custody while being transported to the courthouse. To make matters worse, before the first day of testimony is over, Cooper realizes that Paige is hiding something significant. Before she can have it out with her client, however, Vallis is murdered.

Meanwhile, Cooper’s two longtime cop buddies, Mercer Wallace and Mike Chapman, are investigating the murder of a poor, elderly black woman, ostensibly killed during a burglary. What’s the connection between McQueen Ransome and Alexandra Cooper’s rape case? Does it lie in the old lady’s surprising past as an exotic dancer in Europe with the famous Josephine Baker? Does it stem from her adventurers as an Allied spy during World War II? Or is there a connection to her years as one the favorite concubines of King Farouk of Egypt?

Fans of Linda Fairstein’s previous five Alexandra Cooper novels will not be disappointed. As a twenty-five-year veteran head of the Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, Fairstein writes with familiarity about the inner workings of the city’s legal system. She also creates strong characters and intricate plots that always find a new way to put her plucky, intelligent protagonist into harms way.