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Sunday, August 1, 2010

LETHAL LEGACY - Linda Fairstein

My friend Ingrid gave me this book at last Monday's Public Library Book Club. She knew I would like it as it is a mystery about rare books, maps and the NYC Public Library. I loved everything about the NYC library and visited it 3 times during the time our kids lived there. Anyway, it took me all week to finish it because I was so busy and dratted things kept getting in my way. Therefore even though I took it everywhere I went all week I didn't finish it until this afternoon.

Assistant district attorney, Alexandra Cooper is called to an apartment on the upper east side of Manhattan to an investigation. At the scene the neighbor of Tina Barr is sure the young woman has been the victim of an assault. However, Tina who is a noted conservator of rare books and maps will not cooperate with the authorities. A few days later in the very same apartment another young woman is bludgeoned to death and Alex is once again called in. The dead woman is clutching a very rare book and is dressed in the clothes of noted heiress Minerva Hunt who appears upon the scene to identify the victim as her employee. A few days later while she is working on a conservation project in the library Tina Barr is murdered and her body dumped in Central Park. So the plot thickens including mysterious messages found on the corpses, a dropped key, a hidden cemetery in the city, a noted wealthy family fighting over rare family owned books and maps, and missing pieces of the oldest map in the world.

Alex hooks up with her two friends on the NYC police department and the intrigue unfolds. What I really liked about the book, being a bibliophile myself, was all the interweaving of the workings of the NYCPL including how acquisition and deaccession of legacy donations is handled, the details about how conservators work, and also the history of the best-known New York collectors of rare books and maps.

I got a little bogged down with the minutia of police procedure and lingo but then again that happens to me often when I read a police thriller. It was fun and kept my attention. Here is my favorite quotation from page 302
           "“Now how do you know that?” Mike asked, patting her  on the back. “I've got a library card, Mr. Chapman. It serves me well.”"

Ah, yes. Libraries have always served me well and I hope they do the same for you my friends.

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