Final Jeopardy (Alexandra Cooper Series #1)

Final Jeopardy (Alexandra Cooper Series #1)

3.5 66
by Linda Fairstein

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This critically acclaimed, explosive thriller is a book only prosecutor Linda Fairstein could write. Patricia Cornwall knows the morgue; John Grisham knows the courtroom; but no one knows the inner workings of the D.A.'s office like Linda Fairstein, renowned for two decades as head of Manhattan Sex Crimes Unit. Now that world comes vividly to life in a brilliant debut…  See more details below


This critically acclaimed, explosive thriller is a book only prosecutor Linda Fairstein could write. Patricia Cornwall knows the morgue; John Grisham knows the courtroom; but no one knows the inner workings of the D.A.'s office like Linda Fairstein, renowned for two decades as head of Manhattan Sex Crimes Unit. Now that world comes vividly to life in a brilliant debut novel of shocking realism, powerful insight, and searing suspense.

Alexandra Cooper, Manhattan's top sex crimes prosecutor, awakens one morning to shoking news: a tabloid headline announcing her own brutal murder. But the actual victim was Isabella Lascar, the Hollywood film star who sought refuge at Alex's Martha's Vineyard retreat. Was Isabella targeted by a stalker or -- mistaken for Alex -- was she in the wrong place at the wrong time? In an investigation that twists from the back alleys of lower Manhattan to the chic salons of the Upper East Side. Alex knows she'sin final jeopardy...and time is running out. She has to get into the killer's head before the killer gets to her.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The crusading longtime chief of Manhattan's Sex Crimes Prosecutions Unit brings to her exciting first novel the same passion and insights into the criminal and crime-busting minds that marked her memoir, Sexual Violence (1994). Fairstein also brings herself to the novel-or at least an alter ego of a narrator, Alexandra Cooper, who's also a middle-aged blonde heading the borough's prosecution of sex offenders. Cooper's typical day of counseling victims and working with the NYPD on sex crimes would probably keep readers fascinated, but her latest problem-the shooting murder of glamorous movie star Isabella Lascar at Cooper's getaway home on Martha's Vineyard-pitches the plot at high intensity right away. Though Cooper is warned by the DA not to play cop, she and homicide detective Mike Chapman, who's assigned to bodyguard her, work together unofficially to solve the crime, carrying on a sort of anti-romance all the while. Fairstein isn't a gifted stylist-her dialogue is as wooden as a judge's gavel-and the details of Cooper's professional and personal lives drive the story forward with more vigor than the murder investigation does. Some readers will be disappointed, too, that Cooper, like any victim, has to be rescued in the end by her fiercely protective and ingenious friends on the NYPD. But then this heroine's greatest appeal lies in the warmth of her friendships, the humanness of her mistakes and her unswerving devotion to protecting the next female from harm. As a woman with grave responsibilities who still puts her pantyhose on one leg at a time, she makes a memorable debut. Literary Guild and Mystery Guild main selections; Doubleday Book Club alternate; author tour. (June)
Library Journal
Like her creator, Fairstein (Sexual Violence, LJ 9/15/93), Alexandra Cooper is New York City's assistant district attorney for sex crimes prosecution. A Hollywood actress staying at Alex's vacation home on Martha's Vineyard and driving a rental car charged to Alex's credit card is murdered. Was Alex really the intended victim and the murderer someone she had once prosecuted? Is that why she's been receiving anonymous nocturnal telephone calls? Or was the actress done in by her estranged lover? Why is Alex's own current lover, an investment banker and former Senate candidate, trying to cover up his own involvement with the actress? This thriller, which will keep readers asking questions and turning pages, has the potential to be one of the summer's big hits. Recommended for popular collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/96.]-Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.
Kirkus Reviews
Like her creator, Alexandra Cooper is the New York Assistant District Attorney in charge of prosecuting sex crimes. Day in, day out, she toils in the sewers of the Criminal Courts Building, bent on nailing the nastiest perps in the system. In spite of her glamorpuss investment-banker boyfriend, Jed Segal, it seems her life couldn't get any grimmer—until the day she reads her own obituary in the papers and realizes that Isabella Lascar, the actress friend who's borrowed her place on Martha's Vineyard, has been killed—maybe in mistake for Alex herself. Worse still, a good close look at the evidence tells Alex that despite his fervent denials, Jed was with Iz on the Vineyard. Did he end their fling by shooting her—or was the killer the stalker who'd dogged Iz in Hollywood, or her ex, small-time producer (and big- time cokehead) Richard Burrell, or her latest pre-Jed lover, brain-dead stuntman Johnny Garelli, or Cordelia Jeffers, the mysterious Royal Academy Fellow who wrote Iz a bizarre letter, part advice, part warning—and who now seems to be turning her attention to Alex? First-novelist Fairstein (Sexual Violence: Our War Against Rape, 1993) isn't much of a stylist, but when the story flags, she's got a million anecdotes about the Con Ed rapist and the fondling mail carrier.

Patricia Cornwell in the Big Apple. Alex insists she doesn't see every man as a potential rapist, but after reading this, you wonder why not.

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Product Details

Pocket Books
Publication date:
Alexandra Cooper Series, #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.78(w) x 4.22(h) x 0.89(d)

Read an Excerpt

SAT ON MY LIVING ROOM SOFA at five o'clock in the morning with a copy of the mock-up of the front page of the day's New York Post in my hand, looking at my own obituary. The headline I was reading had been prepared hours earlier, when the cops thought that it was my head that had been blown apart by a rifle blast on a quiet country road in a little Massachusetts town called Chilmark.


Mike Chapman sat opposite me as he worked on his second egg sandwich and lukewarm cup of coffee. He had brought them along with the news story, and in the fashion of an experienced Homicide detective he continued chewing even as he described to me the details of the murder scene — bullet holes, blood spatter, and body bag.

"Good thing you've been a source for so many stories at the Post all these years. It's a very complimentary obit..." He stopped eating long enough for that familiar grin to emerge, then added, "And a great picture of you — looks like they airbrushed most of your wrinkles out. Your phone'll be ringing off the hook once all those lonely guys in this city realize you're still alive — maybe you'll get lucky."

Most of the time Mike could defuse every situation and get me to laugh, but I had been crying for so many hours that it was impossible to respond to his lousy cracks or to focus on anything else but the dreadful day that lay ahead. A woman had been killed on the path leading to my country house, driving a car that had been rented in my name. The body of the tall, slender, thirtyish victim was missing her face, so most of the local cops who arrived on the scene assumed that I had been the target.

WE WERE MORE THAN TWO HUNDRED miles away from the crime scene, twenty stories above the noise of the garbage trucks that rolled through Manhattan streets every morning before dawn, in the safe confines of my high-rise apartment on the Upper East Side. Too many years of investigating break-ins of brownstones and townhouses, with rapists climbing in from fire escapes or pushing in vestibule doors behind unsuspecting tenants, had driven me to a luxury building — low on quaintness and charm but high on doormen and rent. My mother had come into town for two weeks to decorate for me when I moved a few years earlier, but the French provincial antiques and lavish Erunschwig fabrics were an incongruous backdrop for this deadly conversation.

"How'd you get the call?" Mike asked, brushing the crumbs off his slacks and onto the carpet, ready to give me his undivided attention.

"One of the guys in the unit is about to start a trial in front of Torres and grabbed me just as I was going to leave the office for the night. His victim is a junkie — she came in to be prepped for court and was so high she couldn't hold her head up. God knows if she remembers anything about the rape. I had to make the arrangements to get a hotel room for her overnight so we could try to dry her out before she gets on the witness stand. By the time we finished it was nine-thirty, and I just called my friend Joan Stafford to meet for a late supper."

"I didn't ask you for your alibi, for Chrissakes. How'd you hear about this?"

"I can't even focus straight, Mike. You've got to take me down to my office so I can be there before everyone starts to arrive — I'll never make it through all the questions."

"Just talk to me, Alex."

Reliving the events of the past few hours as a witness and not a prosecutor was an unsettling role for me. I tried to reconstruct what had happened after I walked into my apartment shortly before midnight and headed to the answering machine to play back the messages as I started to undress.

Beep one: "Hi, Alex. I'm on the Ventura Freeway, taking the baby to his play group. Tell me more about the case with the therapist who seduced his patient. It sounds fascinating. How many people do you think he's fucked up? Speak with you later." Nina Baum, my college roommate, still my best friend, making her regular phone car call from one of the endless L.A. roadways on which she seemed to spend her life.

Beep two: Just the deliberate click of a hang-up call.

Beep three: "Yo, Coop. Wallace here. The lieutenant asked me to give you a heads up. The Con Ed rapist hit again today. Nothing for you to do now. Lady's been to the hospital and released, so we put her to bed for the night. You do the same, and we'll be down at your office tomorrow. Behave. G'night." The deep, familiar voice of Mercer Wallace, formerly of Homicide, who was now my lead detective in the Special Victims Squad, the unit which investigated all of the sexual assault and child abuse cases that occurred in Manhattan.

Beep four: "I'm trying to reach a friend or next-of-kin to Alexandra Cooper. This is an emergency. Please call me, Chief Wally Flanders, Chilmark Police — Martha's Vineyard. It's urgent — give a call as soon as you get this message. Area code 508-555-3044. Thanks."

Of course I had known Wally for more than a decade — I had been going to the Vineyard since I had been in law school, and Wally was as much a local fixture as the fishing boats and the general store.

I picked up the phone to dial, wondering why he was looking for a friend or relative at my apartment instead of asking for me. When he got on the line, he expressed how surprised he was to hear my voice. "Where are you?" he asked.

"In Manhattan, in my apartment, Chief."

"Well, Alex, there's been a terrible tragedy here. Terrible. Was there somebody stayin' at your house, somebody you let use it?"

"Yes, Wally, a friend of mine is there. It's okay, she'll be staying there for a week or two. It's no problem, I've arranged everything."

My mind was racing but I had never connected the Vineyard with any kind of crime problem except the occasional house burglary. That's why it has always been such a refuge for me, a world away from the grim business of investigating and prosecuting rape cases. Someone must have noticed an unfamiliar person coming or going into Daggett's Pond Way and suspected a burglary.

"Not so easy, Alex. Your friend isn't staying for as long as you thought. She was shot sometime tonight, see, and my guys found the body a few hours ago. She's dead, Alex, real dead."

"Oh my God!" I repeated quietly several times into the telephone mouthpiece. I was incredulous, as people always are when they get this kind of news. And as intimately as I have worked with violence and murder for more than ten years, it had never ruptured the fragile line that separated my personal from my professional life.

"Alex? Alex? Are you alone there?"


"Can you get someone over to give you a hand with this?"

With what? I thought. What else could anyone do except stare at me while I spun out of control? Wally continued, "See, the big problem is that we thought it was you who got killed. That's why we were tryin' to find your family, for notification. The press already thinks you're the dead woman."

"How did that happen?" I shrieked at him.

"Well, it's really ugly. We figure that you — I mean she — was riding in a convertible, top down — and she had turned off the state road onto that wooded path that leads in to your house. Someone must have been waiting in there for you, and — excuse me — just let out a blast which hit her square in the side of her head."

I don't suppose Wally could hear me but I was sitting on my bedroom floor, crying as he finished his story.

"We had a call during the evening to go up to the Patterson house, out your way. My boys found the body — couldn't tell much about anything from looking at her and she didn't have no ID. They called in the license plate and found that the Mustang had been rented in your name. Hell, it was your driveway, a rented car, and a girl with a similar build and size — it made sense that it was you."

"I guess so," I whimpered back to him.

"Well I'm glad it's not you, Alex. Everyone will be glad to know it's not you. I figured the investigation would be a monster, tryin' to track down every pervert and madman you've sent to jail. That's why I called in the FBI — I figured we'd be huntin' all over the place."

Wally actually laughed a few times at that point. "It's a relief, really. I guess the off-island papers won't even bother with us now."

The chief had no idea how wrong he was and how bad this was going to be for that tranquil little island.

"Can you help us, Alex? Can you give us her name and who to notify?"

I mumbled the name into the phone, but Wally heard it loud and clear. "Isabella Lascar."

The news wires were about to explode with the information that the face of the dazzlingly beautiful actress and film star, Isabella Lascar, had been obliterated, and that what was left of her body lay in the tiny Vineyard morgue, with a toe tag mislabeled in the name of Alexandra Cooper.

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What People are saying about this

Patricia Cornwell
"From the mind of one who knows, this is life. Raw, real, and new. Linda Fairstein is wonderful."
Susan Isaacs
"This is no I-guess-this-must-be-what-it's-like fantasy of how the criminal system operates. Final Jeopardy is a smart and gutsy insiders who done it. But the novel than authenticity going for it. It's got a terrific protagonist: Alexandra Cooper is a tough, dedicated assistant attorney and a warm-hearted, funny and insightfull dame. Linda Fairstein has done one hell of a job."
Elissa Schappell
"Linda Fairstein's two decades as a prosecutor of sex crimes infuses Final Jeopardy with riveting authenticity."

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Final Jeopardy (Alexandra Cooper Series #1) 3.5 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 66 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the last book in the Alex Cooper series and loved it. I wanted to start from the beginnig and read the whole series. This book is so boring that I can't bring myself to finish reading it. I am halfway through and nothing extiting has happened since the very beginning. I am going to finish it eventually, I just hope the other books in this series are better than this one.
KBAZ More than 1 year ago
I had not read this author before, took me by surprise the book was so good. In addition, there is good material in this work for learning how things operate in investigative situations . . . I will definitely be looking for Fairstein's other books!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A fine debut that introduces an interesting cast and a decent mystery. I plan to read the rest of her books, anticipating she will grow as a writer.
GrandmaLee More than 1 year ago
Having read some of Linda Fairstein's earlier books I was looking forward to meeting Ms. Cooper. She does not disappoint. The book is well paced, well written and most enjoyable. Will definitely follow the Alexandra Cooper series.
Shera Carriker More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed the book! It was a great read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has a very detailed description of the life of a sex crimes prosecutor. Great read for anyone interested in mystery and courtroom drama. The twists and turns will drive you crazy trying to figure out who did it. Great!
Anonymous 3 months ago
A really good read. I enjoyed it "muchly". The fifth star is for "no graphic, smutty sex scenes"
Anonymous 8 months ago
PierresFamily More than 1 year ago
Authentic, riveting, unpredictable - what more can you ask, of a crime novel. As someone who has a decaded-and-a-half of time working in the criminal justice system, I especially appreciate that her characters are not stock stereotypes, and that her situations are true-to-life, rather than simplistic. I wish that television so-called "procedural" producers would learn from her example, especially in the area of authenticity.
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mandfs More than 1 year ago
If you like a legal thriller, you'll love this book. Linda Fairstein keeps you completely riveted to Final Jeopardy. It has it all - crime, romance, suspense. An excellent read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book. Kept me reading when I needed to stop. Great fkiw to the storyline, interesting snd believable characters.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read it because i was stuck someplace and this was all i had to read. If you find yourself in that position, go ahead and read it. But dont bother if there is ANYTHING else to read. KS
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My first and last book of this author
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A thoroughly unlikeable heroine, improbable plot, and awkward writing make this book almost unreadable. Typical best seller. In other words. The protagonist likes to believe she is tough and professional, but she is a physical and moral coward who mistakes having a bad temper for strength. I was amazed that the author thought we should celebrate and empathize with Alex's childish behavior to he boyfriend in a situation that should have called for her most professional behavior given his involvement with a case she was also involved with. On a lighter note... c'mon, we're supposed to believe this woman is in her 30s and listens only to music from the era of the Four Tops? And this is the music of choice for the police officers she works with also? Perhaps this book was supposed to be set in the 70s; if so, she neglected to say so. And no way any 30 year old at the time this book was written has this kind of musical taste, let alone a group of 30 year olds.
tillypop More than 1 year ago
Cannot put down until you are done!
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