Linda Fairstein Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

As an attorney, Linda Fairstein worked with rape and violent assault victims in New York City. From 1974 until 2002, she worked under District Attorney Frank Morgenthau, becoming chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in 1976. During Fairstein’s tenure, she led prosecution teams in many high-profile cases, notably the so-called preppy murder of Jennifer Levin and the beating and rape of the woman known to the media as the Central Park jogger. In the course of her work, Fairstein radically altered the manner in which rape cases were investigated and tried, stressing forensics, pioneering the use of DNA evidence, seeking confessions from perpetrators, and thoroughly questioning victims. A member of many legal and nonprofit organizations advocating for the rights of victims (including the Mount Sinai Hospital Friends of the Rape Crisis Intervention Program, New York Women’s Agenda Domestic Violence Committee, Governor Cuomo’s Task Force on Rape, and President Clinton’s Violence Against Women Advisory Council), Fairstein has been in demand as a lecturer on a variety of topics related to violence, particularly violence against women.

For her efforts as an advocate, Fairstein has garnered considerable local and national recognition, and has served as the model for the character of a prosecutor on several television shows and films. Among dozens of honors she has collected are a Federal Bar Council Award for distinguished public service; a University...

(The entire section is 536 words.)


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Bush, Vanessa. Review of The Deadhouse, by Linda Fairstein. Booklist 97, no. 22 (August, 2001): 547. This highly favorable review focuses on the novel’s historical and geographical information about Roosevelt Island.

Dubose, Martha Hailey, with Margaret Caldwell Thomas. Women of Mystery: The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists. New York: St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2000. Contains a brief entry on Fiarstein that notes her position as one of the few women writing legal thrillers.

Fairstein, Linda. Sexual Violence: Our War Against Rape. New York: William Morrow, 1993. This nonfictional work covers Fairstein’s experiences as prosecutor, historical perspectives on rape and sex crimes, and depictions of actual sex crimes. Sheds light on Fairstein’s motivations for writing and her main protagonist.

Fairstein, Linda. “The Trials of Convicting Rapists.” Interview by Margaret Carlson. Time 138, no. 15 (October 14, 1991): 11-22. Fairstein describes her daily experiences as a sex crimes prosecutor, noting that “rapists come in every size, shape and background.”

Kaminer, Wendy. “What Is This Thing Called Rape?” Review of Sexual Violence, by Linda Fairstein. The New York Times Book Review (September 19, 1993): 1, 42. The review praises the work for its simple language and insightful examination of the prosecution process, but faults it for its episodic structure and awkward-though-earnest style.

Lehman-Haupt, Christopher. “Divergent Views of Rape as Violence and Sex.” Review of Sexual Violence, by Linda Fairstein. The New York Times, September 19, 1993, p. C15. The work—part memoir, part history, part legal analysis, and part crime report—notes that for centuries rape and other acts of sexual violence have been underreported, the survivors ignored by legal and medical communities, the nature of the crime misunderstood, and the victims stigmatized. The reviewer mildly faults the author for not including a summary of the psychology of sexual assailants.

Melton, Emily. Review of Likely to Die, by Linda Fairstein. Booklist 93, no. 17 (May 1, 1997): 1460. Though the likable heroine and the forensic details are praised, the reviewer disliked the wandering plotline and the pedantic lectures throughout.

Publishers Weekly. Review of The Bone Vault, by Linda Fairstein. 249, no. 42 (October 21, 2002): 53. A mostly positive review of the work, which is deemed authoritative and filled with facts, though termed heavy-handed in dumping information into dialogue, with a plot resolution that challenges credulity.