The fourteenth outing in the Alexandra Cooper series finds the New York City prosecutor in Mougins, France trying to enjoy a peaceful getaway with her boyfriend, famed French restaurateur Luc Rouget. Things take a decidedly unromantic turn when, coming home late from a fancy dinner party thrown by Luc, Alex discovers a pile of bones stacked outside the door to his estate.
The discovery the following morning of a young woman’s body in a nearby pond only adds to the unpleasant atmosphere, especially as she is dressed in all white like the guests who attended the dinner party the previous evening. Going from bad to worse, Luc recognizes the woman as someone who used to work for him, and she is found to be carrying a matchbox promoting the new restaurant Luc will soon be opening in NYC.
Before Alex can even offer to help, or question Luc about the dead woman, she is summoned home to New York where a case involving a high profile arrest urgently needs her attention. In a ripped from the headlines scenario, a high ranking official with the World Economic Bureau has been arrested and charged with raping the chambermaid in his fancy hotel (think Dominique Strauss-Kahn).
Already distracted by the events in France, Alex’s efforts to prepare the witness in the assault case get even further derailed when another woman is found dead in a body of water, this time in the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. Unfortunately this would not necessarily be a noteworthy event in NYC, except this woman was also carrying a matchbox promoting Luc’s NYC restaurant. In order to figure out how the cases are connected Alex is going to have to delve into the worlds of high finance and haute cuisine, where she quickly learns the rich and powerful have many secrets…and that they’d do just about anything to keep them that way.
Though large parts of the story will ring familiar to anyone who followed the events of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, that in no way distracts from the real beauty of author Linda Fairstein’s storytelling, which continues to be her lovingly detailed and vivid descriptions of New York City, the comfortable interaction between Alex and her two best friends NYPD Detective Mike Chapman and Special Victims Unit Detective Mercer Wallace, and the exquisite presentation of what really goes on behind the scenes in the Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Having worked there herself for over 20 years, Fairstein is able to bring to life all the little things that go into working a sex crime prosecution, allowing readers a much better understanding of the challenges and difficulties that such work presents, and the constant reevaluation that occurs at nearly every step of the process.
As always in the Alexandra Cooper series, New York City herself plays a major role in the proceedings, with Fairstein working fascinating details about the city’s history smoothly into the plot. The book’s title, Night Watch, for example is itself a reference to the particular patrol shift that predates even formal law enforcement when “Watchmen” were assigned to look after the city during the darkest hours of the night. And as Detective Chapman so bluntly but accurately observes, “All the craziest shit happens on Night Watch.”
Night Watch is available from Dutton (ISBN: 978-0525952633).
Be sure to visit all of Linda Fairstein’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS