The best part of Fairstein's Alex Cooper stories are the behind-the-scenes tours of New York, and her latest continues this in excellent style. Readers wait on the beaches of the Rockaways with the characters to witness the aftermath of a shipwreck and prowl through the grounds of various federal mansions with Alex and her sidekicks. But the author weighs down the story with far too many thinly sketched characters and subplots. Additionally, the banter between the history-loving police detective Mike Chapman and Alex feels stale in this 12th outing. Either get it on or get over it.
Sex crimes prosecutor Alex is called in when a boatload of Ukrainian illegals wrecks off the shores of Rockaway Beach and several people are killed. As she and her cohorts begin their investigation, a New York congressman's affair with a young former prostitute comes to light. Are the two incidents related? Everybody, including the mayor of New York and many of Alex's co-workers, is suspect. (DUTTON, Mar., 416 pp., $26.95)