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BOOK REVIEW: Bad Blood by Linda Fairstein


Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cooper is facing one of the most challenging cases of her career, the high-profile murder case against Brendan Quillian for the strangulation of his wife Amanda. Cooper is convinced that Quillian hired someone to kill his wife while he was conveniently out of town but has little but circumstantial evidence and the testimony of the murdered wife’s best friend Kate with which to win the conviction. When the defense attorney tears Kate apart on the witness stand, exposing her affair with Quillian, Cooper is sure the case is lost – that is, until a devastating explosion in Water Tunnel #3 rocks New York City and a link to Brendan Quillian is found in the wreckage.

With only a few days to rebuild her case, Cooper, Mercer and Wallace race to understand Quillian’s connection to the new water tunnels, and find the evidence to ensure a conviction. Yet, as they explore the “city of death” underneath Manhattan, they may have unearthed more than just an insular society of “sand hogs” and Amanda’s death may not be the only one requiring investigation.

Bad Blood is the ninth thriller by Linda Fairstein to feature Alexandra Cooper, the lead prosecutor for the Sex Crimes Unit at Manhattan’s District Attorney’s office. Fairstein, for years the head of the same department in Manhattan, uses her extensive experience to create a story full of the nuances and myriad details that provide authenticity. Only an intimate of this world would be aware that the prosecutor’s current favoured method to move case files is shopping carts.

Fairstein’s thrillers include a great deal of action, more than lovers of legal thrillers may appreciate; however, she consistently presents aspects of New York City that for many are hidden, bringing it to life as a secondary character. She incorporates the history of New York’s water system into the plot without it feeling clunky or manipulated. The inclusion of the city as an essential character is what set her thrillers apart from the rest of this crowded genre.

Blair Brown’s reading flows smoothly as she effortlessly switches between the distinct voices and accents with which she portrays the various characters. Whether she is describing the historical and engineering facts about New York’s water tunnels or the social history of the “sand hogs” (the tunnel workers), the expressiveness of her reading suggests she is as engaged with the subject as the author. Especially notable is her portrayal of the bitter feud among the sand hog families. Her voice reflects the vitriol and animosity without becoming melodramatic.

Read the review at Curled Up with a Good Book.

ISBN10: 0743555953
ISBN13: 9780743555951

Audiobook, 5 CDs
Read by: Blair Brown
Abridged by: Judith Benenson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: January 2007


BOOK REVIEW: Boomsday by Christopher Buckley


Cassandra Devine, a cynical Washington spin doctor, is frustrated by the American government’s refusal to deal with the looming crisis. She vents her spleen on her blog “Cassandra,” determined that her generation shouldn’t have to pay the bill for the unrestrained spending of the previous generation. After inspiring a few minor protests, Cassandra offers a radical solution to Social Security’s insolvency – that the government offer incentives to commit suicide by age seventy-five.

Ten years earlier, her father’s suggestion that she sign on for a term of military service to pay for her education, landed her in Bosnia where she worked for military public relations – the Spinning Eagles. It is there she meets Senator Randolph K. Jepperson IV who later, against all expectations, puts forward Cassandra’s idea of “transitioning” as a Senatorial bill when all she wanted was for debate to begin about the issue. And thus the foundation is laid for the screwball events and nefarious political dealings which Christopher Buckley brings vividly to life in Boomsday, his newest novel.

Boomsday is a term economists use to refer to the day the first of America’s 77 million baby boomers retire. Buckley’s wicked satire combines truly outrageous ideas within a very real situation. Financial trouble is looming for Social Security and it is plausible that this may cause economic problems for the US. The generational conflict provides substantial fodder for Buckley’s Swiftian tale, and a new section of Washington to lampoon. Cassandra’s “meta-issue” spirals out of control as special interest and lobby groups amend and compromise the bill into oblivion.

Boomsday is read by Jeanane Garofalo, who quickly establishes distinct voices for all the major characters. Her adept and consistent voicing ensures that listeners soon forget the book is being read by a celebrity reader. Of particular note is her rendition of the news report which opens the book. Anyone who gets their news from NPR will recognize her tone and pacing.

While Buckley has created another frothy tale of delight, Boomsday would have provided greater nourishment if he offered some solid solutions to offset his “modest proposal” for the coming Social Security crisis.

Read the review at Armchair Interviews.

ISBN10: 1594838887
ISBN13: 9781594838880

Audiobook, 5 CDs
Read by: Janeane Garofalo
Abridged by: Karen DiMattia
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publication Date: April 2, 2007


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