Synopses & Reviews
It's August in New York, and the only thing that's hotter than the pavement is Manhattan D.A. Alex Cooper's professional and personal life. Just as she's claiming an especially gratifying victory in a rape case, she gets the call: the body of a young woman has been found in an abandoned building. The brutality of the murder is disturbing enough, but when a second body, beaten and disposed of in exactly same manner, is found off the Belt Parkway, the city's top brass want the killer found fast, before the tabloids can start churning out ghoulish serial killer headlines.
Between dodging the bullets of the gang members who are infuriated by Alex's most recent courtroom victory and keeping a rendezvous with a charming restaurateur, a serial killer on the loose is the last thing she needs on her plate right now. Then a third victim is found, and it becomes clear to Alex and her team that time is not on their side.
Through Alex's peerless interrogation skills and one big break the search becomes focused on someone who has a twisted obsession with the military, and things grow increasingly dangerous when the chase leads to a chain of small, abandoned islands around New York harbor.
Once again Linda Fairstein brilliantly orchestrates a page-turning mix of cutting-edge legal issues and forensics, New York City history, and spine-tingling suspense. And at the center of it all is Alex Cooper stunning, single-minded, accomplished, and not to be trifled with whether she's in or out of a courtroom.
"One of the best crime writers in fiction today." Nelson DeMille
"Fairstein...makes the legal issues more exciting than any high-speed chase." New York Times
"Readers will not want to put down this red-hot thriller until they've turned the final page." Library Journal
About the Author
Linda Fairstein, one of America's foremost legal experts on crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence, ran the Sex Crimes Unit of the District Attorney's Office in Manhattan for more than two decades. Her first novel, Final Jeopardy, which introduced the character Alexandra Cooper, was published in 1996 to critical and commercial acclaim. Her nonfiction book, Sexual Violence, was a New York Times notable book in 1994. She lives with her husband in New York and on Marthas Vineyard.
Reading Group Guide
“One of the best crime writers in fiction today.”–Nelson DeMille
As New York City swelters under the August sun, D.A. Alex Cooper takes on her most riveting case to date in Killer Heat. While masterminding a courtroom victory for a rape victim who was denied justice decades earlier, Alex is called to the scene of a brutal murder. A young woman was severely beaten to death, her body disposed of in an abandoned building. The heat is on when a similar murder victim is found soon after, but connections between the two women slip away from Alex, despite her hard-as-nails interrogation tactics. By the time a third woman is murdered, the tabloids are screeching about a serial killer, and Alex finds herself at the firing range, receiving weapons training from her NYPD buddy Mike Chapman as she follows the trail of a dangerous sexual predator–who has an obsession with women in uniform. A pulse-pounding ride from a bestselling novelist at the top of her game, Killer Heat is a sizzler.
The questions and discussion topics that follow are intended to enhance your reading of Linda Fairstein’s Killer Heat. We hope they will enrich your experience of this stunning thriller.
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1. What are Alex and Mike able to learn about the killer and the victim from the crime scene depicted in the opening chapter? How did your hunches and theories change as the evidence continued to build?
2. What did Kerry Hastings’s experience reveal about the history of prosecuting rapists in America? What cultural shifts had to take place in order for changes to be enacted, such as the broad inclusion of women on juries and an abolishment of a statute of limitations for rape? What would it take to bring about change in countries where rape victims are now treated as criminals?
3. How did Alex’s perception of Herb Ackerman change after he revealed his fetish? Which revelations about Amber were useful in finding her killer? What interrogation techniques does Alex rely on to ensure that witnesses are not only trustworthy but also trial-worthy?
4. With or without DNA evidence, how would you have reacted to the behavior of the Latin Princes if you had been a juror during Floyd Warren’s twenty-first-century trial?
5. Alex often has to confront rivalries between D.A.s and between law enforcement officials with varying jurisdictions. Do these rivalries spark healthy competition, or are they obstacles to justice?
6. In chapter twenty-three, Dickie Draper tries to profile the killer: “Eighteen to thirty-five, tops. Takes a lot of energy to do this. … Mostly a white boy’s game. … And they’re never Jewish.” How useful were his assumptions? What distinguishes between effective and ineffective profiling?
7. How does it affect your reading to know that the author ran the Sex Crimes Unit in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for more than two decades? How does her experience shape the realism of her books?
8. What makes Luc the ideal match for Alex at this point in her life? How has her profession influenced her love life in previous novels?
9. What does Troy Rasheed’s story indicate about the nature of evil? Was his mindset influenced more by his childhood or by his innate nature?
10. How did you react to Nelly Kallin’s closing line in chapter thirty-eight: “It’s not these bastards’ gonads that drive them to assault their victims, detective. It’s their twisted heads”? Did Troy’s history change your opinions about pharmaceutical “castration”? What is the best way to protect society from such criminals? Should Troy and Floyd be grouped in the same sexual-predator category?
11. Like Kiernan, did you believe that Jimmy Dylan was involved in the murders? How did your perception of the Dylan family shift throughout the novel? How much background screening should a bar be required to do before offering a job to a bouncer?
12. What kept Alex alive during her brutal confrontation with Troy, despite the booby traps he had set, as well as her severe claustrophobia? Could any sort of training or mental conditioning have kept Amber, Elise, Connie, and Pam from being captured by him? What do the victims’ diverse backgrounds indicate about the combined randomness and precision in violent criminals?
13. What did you discover about Alex when she was receiving her weapons training? What does her trouble with guns indicate about the major differences between her and Mike? Do her affluent background and her love for ballet and Parisian sojourns make it easier or harder for her to connect with the gritty realities of their casework?
14. In what way does New York itself play a role in the plot of Killer Heat, with references to landmarks ranging from the legendary restaurant Lutèce to the sprawling historic buildings of Governors Island? What did you discover about the military history of New York state through Alex’s dispatches to West Point and Governors Island?
15. What transformations have occurred in Alex since her debut in Final Jeopardy? How have her working relationships with Mike and Mercer been enhanced over the years?