book review: Night Watch by Linda Fairstein

The backstory: Night Watch is the fourteenth mystery in Linda Fairstein's Alexandra Cooper series. Cooper is an ADA in the Manhattan Sex Crimes Unit, just as Fairstein herself was for twenty years. I discovered this series in the spring of 2003 and have read them all. Here are links to my prior reviews of Fairstein's series: Final Jeopardy, Likely to Die, Bad BloodLethal LegacyHell Gate, and Silent Mercy.

The basics: Alex is vacationing in France with Luc, her French chef boyfriend, when a young woman is found dead in the sleepy town. Soon thereafter, word breaks that Mohammed Gil-Dasin, known to most as MGD, has been accused of raping a maid at a hotel in New York City. MGD is head of the World Economic Bureau.

My thoughts: I'll begin with the good, as Fairstein is one of my favorite mystery writers, and this series is near and dear to my heart. As always, the banter among Alex, Mercer and Mike is a delight. I enjoyed them working both the high-profile MGD case and others. Within the MGD case, I was fascinated by how Fairstein pulled in comparisons between the French legal system and the U.S. system. The international angle was refreshing and intriguing.

Two things hampered my enjoyment of this novel: Luc and the MGD storyline. To be fair, I have never liked Luc and am somewhat baffled he and Alex are still together. I realize, however, that my personal dislike for Luc may not be shared. If you like Luc: you're in luck, because there's a lot of him in this novel. The second failing of this novel is more universal: the MGD rape case. To anyone who follows international current events, it's clear the case is inspired by the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case. While typically I love novels based on real people or real events, this one fell flat. The story moved too slowly for me, as the details were nearly identical to the DSK case. When the MGD case did finally stray, it was divine, but it took too long to get there.

The verdict: After the excellence of Silent MercyNight Watch disappoints. While it isn't Fairstein's best, as a longtime fan of the series, I still enjoyed it. Recommended to fans, but if you're new to Fairstein, I suggest you start at the beginning with Final Jeopardy (my review) and work your way through the series or start with Silent Mercy, an excellent more recent mystery.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Length: 416 pages
Publication date: July 10, 2012
Source: publisher via TLC Book Tours and NetGalley

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Night Watch from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version.) Want more opinions? Check out the full tour schedule.

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  1. I read her last book at your recommendation, but I'm thinking instead of moving on to this one I'll stick to the plan of starting from the beginning and get to this one eventually!

    1. That sounds wise. Perhaps in a few years when the details of GSK aren't as memorable, this one will seem better too!

  2. I have a feeling that if this book was too close to a real crime that just happened, I would be frustrated, but it sounds like your frustration stems from a bit more than that. I am glad that you were able to give a nicely cohesive and tight review for this book, despite the fact that it wasn't a favorite. Excellent review today.

  3. I like the Law and Orders that I recognize real cases in (was that sentence even close to gramatically correct??), but I've never been a fan of it in books. Weird, I know.

    1. I'm a fan of it in shows too--perhaps because in an hour only so many details can match up before they have to diverge, when it this case it was measured in hundreds of pages.

  4. It's funny, I was just thinking the other day that I could use a good mystery! I'll have to check this author out. Thanks :)

    1. Emily, this series is so great. I've been reading it so long the characters really do feel like friends!


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