The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our author interviews and reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.
Devil’s Bridge by Linda Fairstein is a compelling read. Anyone who likes the SVU TV show should love these plots. This is the seventeenth book in this series, which follows sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra (Alex) Cooper and two detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace. This story is unique in that it is the first one told from Mike's point of view; where as all of the previous books in the series have had Alexandra as the storyteller.
The author noted to blackfive.net, “There is a lot of skill involved and a reliance on science. I worry that sometimes young cops go straight to the science without using their investigative skills. The third element unquestionably is luck. One of my first cases after DNA became prominent included a bit of luck. The criminal used Clorox to scrub down the apartment. Then he stole jewelry so we got him when finding those fingerprints. Detective Mike is a pretty special guy since he is a composite of the great men I worked with over the years. As a prosecutor, I had the pleasure and honor of working shoulder-to-shoulder with the best detectives in the NYPD, and I just channeled them whenever I had Mike speak.”
This plot is based on a real case in the NY City DA’s office. As with all of her books, the issue involves female victims. In this novel there were two events, one of which has Alex prosecuting a deviant person, and the second involved Alex herself. The story begins with Alex in court trying to indict a defendant for sex trafficking crimes. But she must also contend with an escaped convicted rapist who is stalking her and a hacker who has accessed her most secure information. But, these become the least of her worries when she is suddenly kidnapped. For the rest of the book she becomes MIA, allowing the reader to have the NYPD detective, and Alex’s recent lover, as their eyes and ears. As it becomes obvious she is a victim of foul play detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace pull out all the stops to get her back alive.
Fairstein has become well known for having the setting of New York City as almost a secondary character. A history of the city is incorporated throughout the book, specifically the New York Waterfront that includes the George Washington Bridge, the Hudson River, and The Statue of Liberty. She highlights the nooks and crannies of the area, making it feel as if the reader is actually a part of the location.
The author’s vast prosecutorial experience has allowed her to write believable and realistic plots. She is able to draw upon interesting facts having been chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan, the first in the country, for more than two decades and America’s foremost legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence. In fact, people will wonder how much of Linda is Alex.
She hopes readers will be entertained and “educated about the issues of domestic violence, sexual predators, and date rape. My passion is working with victims of violence. I keep my legal credentials current so that I can work on cases or help survivors get access to the system. Two of my nonprofit boards are “Safe Horizon,” the country’s largest victim-advocacy organization, and the “Joyful Heart Foundation”, founded by Law and Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay, where our current emphasis is ending the backlog of rape evidence kits across the nation. It’s work that makes you feel great.”
But she also wants to issue a word of warning, “Alex and I understand that a prosecutor’s job is not necessarily to get convictions but rather to do justice to the system. A good prosecutor makes sure you get the right guy. I saw my job as convicting the guilty, with emphasis on the guilty as charged. Take for example the Rolling Stone article where the accuser outright lied. One of the things that saddened me the most was that smart young women said it did not matter she lied, because important issues were brought to light. Of course it should matter that she lied, truth seeking is a key role.”
Although never a paid consultant she did work with the SVU TV team. She watches the show because she has not given up her passion of advocating for victims of violence. She worked with the original prosecutor on the show and the main detective, Olivia Benson, allowing them to pick her brain. It appears that the producer Dick Wolf gave a shout out to Fairstein by using the first name and last name initial for the show’s first prosecutor, Alex Cabot versus Fairstein’s main character, Alex Cooper.
Devil’s Bridge keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. This novel has an action packed plot that allows readers to learn a little something about sex crimes; yet, also weaves in some history and trivia. Anyone looking for a suspenseful thriller should read this book.