Saturday, October 15, 2016

Review of "Death Angel" by Linda Fairstein




A young homeless girl, dubbed "Angel", is found dead in Central Park and the trio of Assistant District Attorney Alex Cooper, Detective Mike Chapman, and Detective Mercer Wallace investigate. The three professionals are friends as well as colleagues and enjoy joking, dining, and playing "Final Jeopardy." In addtion - being free of other romantic entanglements - Alex and Mike allow their long-simmering, low-key attraction to take a tiny step forward. Though the familiar characters in the series are fun to visit, the book is not a success.

Linda Fairstein's crime novels always involve murder at iconic locations in New York City. Thus the reader is treated to a healthy dose of the architecture and history of the site(s) along with an interesting investigation, good detective work, and a satisfactory resolution. Not so in this book. It seems like about 90% of the book is devoted to discussing the geography, history, structure, and uses of Central Park and about 10% to a disjointed, sprawling, almost incomprehensible mystery novel.

As the story proceeds Angel's death somehow leads investigators to the Dakota, a super-ritzy apartment building next to Central Park. In the past, the wealthy Dalton family bought up the 8th floor of the Dakota for themselves and housed their servants on the 9th floor. The family also experienced a terrible tragedy, the disappearance of a 3-year-old Dalton child. Meanwhile - in the present - as Angel's killer is being sought a rapist with the words "Kill Coop" tattooed on his hand is attacking women and another death occurs. Are these events all connected somehow?

To top it all off, Mike Chapman has gotten himself into hot water by having an affair with - and dumping - a disturbed lady judge who's out for revenge. This causes trouble all around. Other characters in the story include an elderly Dalton, Dalton family servants, homeless people, mental patients, and more.

Eventually, Angel's killer is uncovered in a resolution that seems almost disconnected from the rest of the story. Moreover, some plot points seem to go unresolved - but by the end I didn't care. If this book was billed as a story about Central Park it would be a success. If you're looking for a good mystery, skip this book.

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