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Lethal Legacy: A Novel, by Linda Farstein (Read by Blair Brown)

When a young woman is assaulted in her apartment, sex crimes unit assistant district attorney Alex Cooper is called to investigate. Although the woman agrees to go to the hospital for an examination, she disappears, and Alex is left without a victim. Shortly after, another is found murdered in the woman's apartment, and Alex adds the role of homicide detective to her job of sex crimes investigator. She and her partner, Mike Chapman, follow clues that lead them to the rare book collections at the New York Public Library and into the private libraries of several wealthy and eccentric collectors. In addition to the cast of villains and victims in this book, the New York Public Library emerges as almost more a character than a setting. The identification, collection and preservation of rare documents and maps are explained in great detail. The interior design of the library and the function of the many rooms are also dealt with thoroughly.

Fairstein gives the listener a double whammy of wonderful in this audio book. She not only tells an intriguing story, filled with suspense, terror and multiple surprises, she educates the listener about art history, art collection and preservation and DNA-related police procedure. By having most of the action center around the vast special collections in the New York Public, she demonstrates that libraries are an exciting and necessary part of our culture, both in appreciating the present and in studying and preserving the past. Blair Brown is, once again, the prefect narrator for a Fairstein novel. She captures the authority and the vulnerability of the police personnel, the innocence of the peripheral characters and the depravity of the villains.

Lethal Legacy is an important addition to the mystery-thriller, police procedural genres of audio books. It offers a variety of pleasures for a wide range of listeners. Because of its extensive coverage of legacy collections at libraries as well as the collection, restoration and value of literary and art treasures, it warrants rereading multiple times. Even if listeners have little interest in this aspect of the novel, the story is a first-rate whodunit. Numerous clues lead the amateur detective on a captivating adventure from the opening pages to the surprising conclusion.

Ruth Mormon

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