Synopses & Reviews
In Linda Fairsteins outstanding new novel, the New York Public Library houses dazzling treasures—and deadly secrets
When Assistant District Attorney Alex Cooper is summoned to Tina Barrs apartment on Manhattans Upper East Side, she finds a neighbor convinced that the young woman was assaulted. But the terrified victim, a conservator of rare books and maps, refuses to cooperate with investigators. Then another woman is found murdered in that same apartment with an extremely valuable book, believed to have been stolen. As Alex pursues the murderer, she is drawn into the strange and privileged world of the Hunt family, major benefactors of the New York Public Library and passionate rare book collectors.
Eventually Alex connects their internal family rivalries to a priceless edition of Alice in Wonderland, which also contains the worlds oldest map. Would one of the well-bred Hunts be willing to kill for the treasures? The search for the answer takes Alex and her team on a breathtaking chase from Manhattans grandest apartments to the secret tunnels and chambers of the New York Public Library, and finally to a nineteenth-century underground vault. There, in the pitch-black darkness, Alex comes face-to-face with the killer who values money more than life.
Featuring a cast of elite, erudite, and downright eccentric characters, and a complex trail of clues that will have you guessing until the final pages, Lethal Legacy is Linda Fairsteins most beguiling thriller yet.
"At the start of bestseller Fairstein's entertaining 11th legal thriller to feature ADA Alexandra Cooper of Manhattan's Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit (after Killer Heat), Alex persuades librarian Tina Barr to go to the hospital after a burglar posing as a fireman assaults Tina at her East Side home. After Tina disappears, a woman's corpse turns up in Tina's abandoned apartment that looks like Tina's landlady, heiress Minerva Hunt, but in fact is Minerva's Romanian housekeeper. Alex and her sidekick, NYPD detective Mike Chapman, later learn that Tina was once employed by Minerva's father, Jasper Hunt, a rare book and map collector. The investigation leads Alex and her team into the dark depths of the New York Public Library in search of stolen items that certain bibliophiles and antique map enthusiasts would kill for. Full of fun information about the NYPL, the plot builds to a cool resolution that sets up Alex's next adventure involving a disturbing cold case. Author tour. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
When Assistant District Attorney Alex Cooper is summoned to Tina Barr’s apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side, she finds a neighbor convinced that the young woman was assaulted. But the terrified victim, a conservator of rare books and maps, refuses to cooperate with investigators. Then another woman is found murdered in that same apartment with an extremely valuable book, believed to have been stolen.
Alex discovers that the apartment belongs to a member of the wealthy Hunt family, longtime benefactors of the New York Public Library. As Alex, Mike, and Mercer meet each member of the eccentric family, they like them less and less. But does that mean they could be capable of murder? The search for the answer leads them to forgotten underground vaults in lower Manhattan where the Hunt patriarch took his greatest secrets to the grave—literally.
In this beguiling mix of history and suspense, the New York Times bestselling author of Killer Heat truly outdoes herself as she takes readers on a breathtaking ride through the valuable first editions, lost atlases, and secret rooms and tunnels of the great New York Public Library.
Assistant district attorney Alex Cooper and her crew are drawn into the strange and privileged world of rich collectors, eccentric library trustees, and the treasures of the great New York Public Library, in this latest breathtaking thriller from "New York Times"-bestselling author Fairstein.
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author LINDA FAIRSTEIN is one of Americas foremost legal experts on crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence. She lives in New York City and on Marthas Vineyard.
Reading Group Guide
1. What makes this an ideal case for Alex, Mike, and Mercer? How do their special skills help them to navigate the world of the Hunts? What makes the Hunt family different from any other suspects they have encountered?
2. How did you interpret Tina Barrs cryptic description of her work? If you were in her position, would you have gone to the police after the first attack?
3. How did your impressions of Minerva Hunt change throughout the novel? Did you trust Karla? What was your theory about why she was found with the jewel-encrusted copy of the Bay Psalm Book?
4. Discuss the different motivations of the collectors portrayed in Lethal Legacy, from Jonah Krauss to Alger Herrick. What makes them covet particular objects?
5. Why is it important to preserve early volumes such as the Bay Psalm Book? In a digital age, why do printed books matter? What did you learn about the history of book printing and mapmaking by reading Lethal Legacy?
6. Though Lethal Legacy is entirely a work of fiction, in 2006 a real-life map thief admitted to stealing dozens of valuable specimens, targeting institutions ranging from the New York Public Library to Yales Beinecke Library. In your opinion, what (and who) drives the high market value of centuries-old maps? What value, besides a financial one, do these artifacts have in Lethal Legacy?
7. Most of Linda Fairsteins fans know that she worked in the Manhattan District Attorneys Office for more than twenty years. But not many fans know that she collects rare books. How does it affect your reading to know that Fairstein is a rare-book lover herself?
8. What was the legacy of the Jasper Hunts, in emotional terms? Was Jasper Hunt Junior mad or brilliant? Or both? Is he solely responsible for the feuds between the Hunt siblings?
9. Does Jane Eliot appreciate rare books in a way that is different from the other characters? How was her childhood enhanced by life in the New York Public Library?
10. Jonah Krauss describes how his life changed after he bought an early edition of The Great Gatsby. If you could pay any price, which rare book would you most want to own?
11. In chapter five, Alex fights for access to Californias DNA database, trying to clinch her case against Jamal Griggs. DNA evidence also affects the Hunt family tree. Should America adopt Britains Police and Justice Act, which allows police to collect and retain DNA from anyone who is arrested?
12. Alex has a harrowing cab ride on her way to meet Luc for dinner. How does that evening capture the two sides of her life: the gritty, constant threat of retaliation and an evening with a man who loves to surround her with luxury? What makes Luc the perfect antidote to her stressful job?
13. How did Travis Forbes become powerful? How is his power different from the Hunt familys?
14. Discuss the New York Public Librarys role as a character in the novel. What did you discover about its unique history? What has helped this landmark endure into the twenty-first century?
15. Alex has encountered many criminal minds since her debut in Final Jeopardy. Do all perps, including the ones in Lethal Legacy, share a common weakness?
District Attorney Alex Cooper has taken readers on pulse-pounding escapades in some of New York Citys most intriguing corners. Now the dazzling DA is embroiled in a murder investigation that leads to hallowed ground for book lovers: the majestic New York Public Library. Set in the world of sumptuous rare books-and the obsessed collectors who are willing to pursue their trade at any cost-Lethal Legacy
is the story of a family embroiled in deadly rivalries over inherited literary treasures.
When Alex is called to the scene of an apparent assault, the victim refuses treatment and is tight-lipped with police. Before Alex can determine which side of the law Tina Barr is on, her attacker returns, and the case quickly escalates into a murder investigation. Barr was a master conservator of stunning printed works, but was she capable of forgery? Following a trail of priceless evidence, some of it hidden between the lavish covers of renowned books, Alex finds herself at the center of a true page-turner, unlocking buried history within the secret rooms of Americas most enticing library.
The following questions are designed to enhance your reading groups discussion of Linda Fairsteins Lethal Legacy. We hope they will enrich your experience of this dazzling thriller.