The Bone Vault by Linda Fairstein

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The Bone Vault by Linda Fairstein

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art: a place where pickled artifacts and the triumphant creations of the past grandmasters' sit shoulder to shoulder: an unlikely venue for the murder by arsenic poisoning, of a mousey young woman who was supposed to have gone back to her home country months before.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: February 2004
Publisher: Time Warner Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0751533378

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The Bone Vault is the next novel in Linda Fairstein's series of Alexandra Cooper novels and follows The Dead House. Once more we get to go around the block with the three main and immensely likeable characters, Alex, Detective Mike Chapman and Detective Mercer Wallace and watch them work their magic on what looks, at first to be an impossible case to solve.

The venue for the opening of the story is no less than New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and a charity reception at which Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cooper is a guest, enjoying a well earned night off. The champagne is flowing and huge charitable sums are being pledged. Elsewhere, a shipment from the Museum bound for a show overseas containing an ancient sarcophagus is being opened by customs officials. The very well preserved but very dead body of a young, hard-working Museum intern by the name of Katrina Grooten is not supposed to be inside.

And so Alex and Chapman begin their investigation, Alex having been tenuously drafted in by Chapman under the pre-text of potential sexual assault on the girl, which turns into a side story of its own, equally as pertinent to the plot. Unsurprisingly, an almost impenetrable façade is presented by the upper echelons of the Museum's faculty and society, all unwilling to implicate themselves in any way, all showing a distinct lack of any enthusiasm to link themselves with the dead girl and yet all seem to be associated with her in some small and vitally important way.

Why was Katrina Grooten given a massive and fatal dose of arsenic? How long had she been dead? What did she know that might have led to her untimely death? Who did she know with access to huge quantities of arsenic?

As with Linda Fairstein's other novels, also reviewed here for The Bookbag, The Bone Vault is raw and real and interspersed with enough procedural authenticity as to make the story both convincing and fascinating. I did, however, find the story reminiscent of its predecessor, The Deadhouse in as far as the similarities between the snooty and eccentric academics of Kings University and the superiority complexes of the various faculty members at the Museum. As I read them out of sequence, it was not as noticeable; however, in sequence I suppose it must feel a little "samey".

Regardless, the tale picks up apace, interspersed with attention-grabbing sideline stories about the other areas of the work done by Alex and her team at the sex crimes unit. Soon, the museums of our childhood take on a less friendly, affable countenance, effortlessly morphing into something more sinister and ominous.

If you like the look of this book, you may also enjoy Linda Fairstein's Cold Hit or indeed her later novel, The Deadhouse. Alternatively, Jonathan Kellerman's Dr. Alex Delaware novels may ring a familiar bell; try Rage and perhaps Survival of the Fittest.

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