Linda Fairstein: Deadfall
At the center of this novel are a group of people that are animal hunters and a conservation society working to protect the animal kingdom within the and beyond our five boroughs and border. But, someone wants to stop this and does not care for the lives of the animals and Alexandra Cooper and her DA boss Paul Battaglia are at the heart of this murder/thriller novel. A dangerous killer marks assistant DA Alexandra Cooper in order to silence her for what they think she knows about something related to her boss. When attending an event at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, having missed two of Battaglia’s phone calls, not wanting to deal or talk to him, finding him running up the steps of the museum, pulling her aside then fall down right on top of her called Deadfall, after being shot. Isolated, questions, berated, accused of being the reason he is dead, Alexandra has to within stand hours and days of questioning as if she knows something that she has decided to keep hidden. When the investigation progresses it leads to the Wildlife Conservation society and the dangerous people who pay huge sums to hunt and kill innocent animals for a profit. Working in conjunction with her boyfriend, Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace two NYPD detectives she hopes to uncover the sinister plot that caused Paul’s death, an accident during a hunt that he was part of and the murder of Wolfe Savage. Big game hunting is illegal but there are those who would fight, kill and pay anything for the pelts, bones and skins of animals all the way up to the top of law enforcement agencies. With the US Attorney on her back, James Prescott, and her problem with alcohol noted, she is put on leave, told to stay out of the case involving Paul’s death but Alex never backs down from a fight. The detectives and the US Attorney seem out to get her while the truth behind the animal killings, the hunting and more comes to the forefront. A woman named Chidra Persaud is the head of a company called Tiger Tails that produces her own brand of high fashion clothing but she also sponsors some expensive hunts. Six people at a time go on the hunt, pay quite a bit for the spot but what happens when someone is shot and killed, was it murder or an accident and how was her boss involved?
When Alex and Mike go out for dinner somehow they get in the crossfire and get injured. Two bikes are at the helm of what was an attempt to kill them both as his car had a flat when they came out of the restaurant, not wanting to lose sight of her he places her back in the car that explodes minutes later after someone throws a Molotov cocktail at them.
Liebman is the President of AWB’s African Program. They were talking to him about Paul and his link to illegal game hunting. With the aid of a task force that has been formed this group should explore the area of animal trafficking and the illegal sales of animal skins, tusks and more. The conversation switched to elephant tusks and ivory and the question asked was how does the ivory get out of a small village in Africa? The conservation society uses dogs at some of the larger airports. People train dogs to sniff for landmines and explosives in combat zones. The author’s research into this area is extensive and it led to more descriptions about illegal trace and moving cargo by boats instead of planes. Added in let’s add the drugs or heroin brought into the Africa’s highway. Then Mercer and the team asked about how Battaglia felt when Prescott became the US attorney. Tigers are being slaughtered across India for their skins and bones. This ring has its own syndicate that is wiping out elephants, rhinos in Africa. There might be tiger reserves the author relates that are protected areas in Central India but the syndicates get into them, secure the jaw traps near watering holes and the rest causes the death of the tiger once the trap clams down in the tiger’s mouth.
Chidra Persaud was a victim of a crime before she was ousted in England and the U.S. as a perp. When the investigation moves ahead they learn that she was Paul’s snitch and provided him with information needed. Alex Cooper’s voice is heard as she is the primary narrator within this novel as she relates the events, emotions attached to each and leads us directly through the investigation. Being summoned to be interviewed by a lawyer from the Frauds Bureau it never happened. Kwan Enterprises is at the heart of what is happening a trading company for any shipping or marketing needs she has. Was Kwan interested in wild life conservation and Alex’s ire fired up when she yells, is upset and reminds Chidra that Paul was murdered and that no in his professional world knew his link or interest in wild animals. But, during this investigation Alex was placed in pysch facility and protected by the NYPD because she was on someone’s hit list. Chidra we learn put Paul together with the Order of St. Hubertus an all male society except for her. Taking the investigative group to the preserve the club uses, where Paul sated two weeks prior to his murder and literally to the mountains as author Linda Fairstein takes us up the mountain, seeing the scenery and learning which animals are endangered an how a precious one named Horace met his maker and why. The link to this whole thing is someone named Diana who proves to have been there all the time as it is what Chidra calls herself. Allowing men and club members to stay in the cottages by the river, some fly fishing, some more shooting and her manager having all of the names required and needed by the team. Karl Jansen was with the group and using his binoculars showed them where Horace was birched. Horace is a ram. Rams are valuable according to those that hunt and killing them bringing in a high roller who would pay even more to kill the trophy ram. Paul was at the preserve and had to book another one for November as Alex tries to piece it all together. Not wanting to reveal the person Paul was brining the next time to the preserve we learn more about Karl Jansen and the fact that money and greed was behind it all. All Alex wanted was to spend time with Mike and get out of where she was. Prescott put here there and he was the one that came for her in the middle of the night to meet Chidra, see her preserve and even climb the mountain where someone close to the preserve’s son was killed. But, who killed him and was it murder or an accident when Alex realizes that Chidra was not Paul’s witness but his snitch.
Tensions rise and Alex calls someone’s bluff as she faces off with Kwan letting him know she has information and a conversation he had with Paul on tape and from there things spiral in many different directions? Was Kwan smuggling in exotic animals from Asia to stock the preserve for Chidra? Paul she thinks was killed because someone did not want him interfering in this world of big game hunters and trophy animals. But, there are more players but that’s after he is arrested. From my old stomping grounds in the Bronx to the Drye Avenue Shuttle and train station I took to go to school, the author brings us front and center to the place where drugs were stashed, what the connection is the a special spot in the zoo as Mike and Alex pray for their lives when a killer comes at them, his gang members surrounding them and the name Pedro Echvarria comes to light but how you won’t believe. A story about illegal game hunting, illegal drugs, heroin ring, evolution of global trading, families making money from trading opium and the animals supply and demand. Just who is George Kwan? Who was running the boys in the Bronx? Who are his contacts? An ending that will keep you on edge as Alex and Mike fight their way through parts of the Bronx Zoo, learning more about Kwan Enterprises, dealing with the person who worked for Pedro and the enlightening truth that might release Alex from being a prime suspect in the murder. Calling Alex three times while she was at the Met. The first a response to an email telling him she should not meet him. Paul wanted to run the whole case and someone stopped him in his tracks. Are the people at the conservation foundation in the know? What about Persaud’s club? What is next for Alex now that the DA’s job is vacant? Will she be the one to take his place? Added in you won’t believe what they found on his wife’s phone. An ending that will make you hold your breath, make your heart race as Alex, Mike, Vickie and Mercer fight to stop what someone put in place and not have someone else become a victim of a violent DEADFALL! This is Linda Fairstein and Alexandra Cooper at their best.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine