Final Jeopardy

Final Jeopardy

by Linda Fairstein

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Overview

From the former chief of the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office comes the bestselling thriller featuring a New York City prosecutor unraveling a terrifying and brutal murder mystery.

Alexandra Cooper, Manhattan’s top sex crimes prosecutor, awakens one morning to shocking news: a tabloid headline announcing her own violent murder. Confused and horrified, Alex discovers that the actual victim was Isabella Lascar, a Hollywood film actress who was staying at Alex’s Martha’s Vineyard retreat. This only raises more questions: was Isabella slain by a stalker or was Alex herself the intended target?

In an investigation that twists from the alleys of lower Manhattan to the chic boutiques of the Upper East Side, Alex has to get inside the killer’s head before the killer gets to her. “With riveting authenticity” (Vanity Fair), Final Jeopardy is a fast-paced and explosive thriller that only Linda Fairstein could write.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501197970
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: 08/28/2018
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 98,598
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Linda Fairstein was chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan for more than two decades and is America’s foremost legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence. Her Alexandra Cooper novels are international bestsellers and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. She lives in Manhattan and on Martha’s Vineyard.

Hometown:

New York, New York and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

May 5, 1947

Place of Birth:

Mount Vernon, New York

Education:

B.A., Vassar College, 1969; J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1972

Read an Excerpt

Final Jeopardy

1


I SAT ON MY LIVING ROOM SOFA AT FIVE O’CLOCK IN THE morning with a copy of the mock-up of the front page of the day’s New York Post in my hand, looking at my own obituary. The headline I was reading had been prepared hours earlier, when the cops thought that it was my head that had been blown apart by a rifle blast on a quiet country road in a little Massachusetts town called Chilmark.

SEX PROSECUTOR SLAIN—FBI, STATE TROOPERS JOIN SEARCH FOR KILLER

Mike Chapman sat opposite me as he worked on his second egg sandwich and lukewarm cup of coffee. He had brought them along with the news story, and in the fashion of an experienced Homicide detective he continued chewing even as he described to me the details of the murder scene—bullet holes, blood spatter, and body bag.

“Good thing you’ve been a source for so many stories at the Post all these years. It’s a very complimentary obit...” He stopped eating long enough for that familiar grin to emerge, then added, “And a great picture of you—looks like they airbrushed most of your wrinkles out. Your phone’ll be ringing off the hook once all those lonely guys in this city realize you’re still alive—maybe you’ll get lucky.”

Most of the time Mike could defuse every situation and get me to laugh, but I had been crying for so many hours that it was impossible to respond to his lousy cracks or to focus on anything else but the dreadful day that lay ahead. A woman had been killed on the path leading to my country house, driving a car that had been rented in my name. The body of the tall, slender, thirtyish victim was missing her face, so most of the local cops who arrived on the scene assumed that I had been the target.

• • •

We were more than two hundred miles away from the crime scene, twenty stories above the noise of the garbage trucks that rolled through Manhattan streets every morning before dawn, in the safe confines of my high-rise apartment on the Upper East Side. Too many years of investigating break-ins of brownstones and townhouses, with rapists climbing in from fire escapes or pushing in vestibule doors behind unsuspecting tenants, had driven me to a luxury building—low on quaintness and charm but high on doormen and rent. My mother had come into town for two weeks to decorate for me when I moved a few years earlier, but the French provincial antiques and lavish Brunschwig fabrics were an incongruous backdrop for this deadly conversation.

“How’d you get the call?” Mike asked, brushing the crumbs off his slacks and onto the carpet, ready to give me his undivided attention.

“One of the guys in the unit is about to start a trial in front of Torres and grabbed me just as I was going to leave the office for the night. His victim is a junkie—she came in to be prepped for court and was so high she couldn’t hold her head up. God knows if she remembers anything about the rape. I had to make the arrangements to get a hotel room for her overnight so we could try to dry her out before she gets on the witness stand. By the time we finished it was nine-thirty, and I just called my friend Joan Stafford to meet for a late supper.”

“I didn’t ask you for your alibi, for Chrissakes. How’d you hear about this?”

“I can’t even focus straight, Mike. You’ve got to take me down to my office so I can be there before everyone starts to arrive—I’ll never make it through all the questions.”

“Just talk to me, Alex.”

Reliving the events of the past few hours as a witness and not a prosecutor was an unsettling role for me. I tried to reconstruct what had happened after I walked into my apartment shortly before midnight and headed to the answering machine to play back the messages as I started to undress.

Beep one: “Hi, Alex. I’m on the Ventura Freeway, taking the baby to his play group. Tell me more about the case with the therapist who seduced his patient. It sounds fascinating. How many people do you think he’s fucked up? Speak with you later.” Nina Baum, my college roommate, still my best friend, making her regular phone car call from one of the endless L.A. roadways on which she seemed to spend her life.

Beep two: Just the deliberate click of a hang-up call.

Beep three: “Yo, Coop. Wallace here. The lieutenant asked me to give you a heads up. The Con Ed rapist hit again today. Nothing for you to do now. Lady’s been to the hospital and released, so we put her to bed for the night. You do the same, and we’ll be down at your office tomorrow. Behave. G’night.” The deep, familiar voice of Mercer Wallace, formerly of Homicide, who was now my lead detective in the Special Victims Squad, the unit which investigated all of the sexual assault and child abuse cases that occurred in Manhattan.

Beep four: “I’m trying to reach a friend or next-of-kin to Alexandra Cooper. This is an emergency. Please call me, Chief Wally Flanders, Chilmark Police—Martha’s Vineyard. It’s urgent—give a call as soon as you get this message. Area code 508-555-3044. Thanks.”

Of course I had known Wally for more than a decade—I had been going to the Vineyard since I had been in law school, and Wally was as much a local fixture as the fishing boats and the general store.

I picked up the phone to dial, wondering why he was looking for a friend or relative at my apartment instead of asking for me. When he got on the line, he expressed how surprised he was to hear my voice. “Where are you?” he asked.

“In Manhattan, in my apartment, Chief.”

“Well, Alex, there’s been a terrible tragedy here. Terrible. Was there somebody stayin’ at your house, somebody you let use it?”

“Yes, Wally, a friend of mine is there. It’s okay, she’ll be staying there for a week or two. It’s no problem, I’ve arranged everything.”

My mind was racing but I had never connected the Vineyard with any kind of crime problem except the occasional house burglary. That’s why it has always been such a refuge for me, a world away from the grim business of investigating and prosecuting rape cases. Someone must have noticed an unfamiliar person coming or going into Daggett’s Pond Way and suspected a burglary.

“Not so easy, Alex. Your friend isn’t staying for as long as you thought. She was shot sometime tonight, see, and my guys found the body a few hours ago. She’s dead, Alex, real dead.”

“Oh my God!” I repeated quietly several times into the telephone mouthpiece. I was incredulous, as people always are when they get this kind of news. And as intimately as I have worked with violence and murder for more than ten years, it had never ruptured the fragile line that separated my personal from my professional life.

“Alex? Alex? Are you alone there?”

“Yes.”

“Can you get someone over to give you a hand with this?”

With what? I thought. What else could anyone do except stare at me while I spun out of control?

Wally continued, “See, the big problem is that we thought it was you who got killed. That’s why we were tryin’ to find your family, for notification. The press already thinks you’re the dead woman.”

“How did that happen?” I shrieked at him.

“Well, it’s really ugly. We figure that you—I mean she—was riding in a convertible, top down—and she had turned off the state road onto that wooded path that leads in to your house. Someone must have been waiting in there for you, and—excuse me—just let out a blast which hit her square in the side of her head.”

I don’t suppose Wally could hear me but I was sitting on my bedroom floor, crying as he finished his story.

“We had a call during the evening to go up to the Patterson house, out your way. My boys found the body—couldn’t tell much about anything from looking at her and she didn’t have no ID. They called in the license plate and found that the Mustang had been rented in your name. Hell, it was your driveway, a rented car, and a girl with a similar build and size—it made sense that it was you.”

“I guess so,” I whimpered back to him.

“Well I’m glad it’s not you, Alex. Everyone will be glad to know it’s not you. I figured the investigation would be a monster, tryin’ to track down every pervert and madman you’ve sent to jail. That’s why I called in the FBI—I figured we’d be huntin’ all over the place.”

Wally actually laughed a few times at that point. “It’s a relief, really. I guess the off-island papers won’t even bother with us now.”

The chief had no idea how wrong he was and how bad this was going to be for that tranquil little island.

“Can you help us, Alex? Can you give us her name and who to notify?”

I mumbled the name into the phone, but Wally heard it loud and clear. “Isabella Lascar.”

The news wires were about to explode with the information that the face of the dazzlingly beautiful actress and film star, Isabella Lascar, had been obliterated, and that what was left of her body lay in the tiny Vineyard morgue, with a toe tag mislabeled in the name of Alexandra Cooper.

Table of Contents

What People are Saying About This

Patricia Cornwell

"From the mind of one who knows, this is life. Raw, real, and new. Linda Fairstein is wonderful."

Susan Isaacs

"This is no I-guess-this-must-be-what-it's-like fantasy of how the criminal system operates. Final Jeopardy is a smart and gutsy insiders who done it. But the novel than authenticity going for it. It's got a terrific protagonist: Alexandra Cooper is a tough, dedicated assistant attorney and a warm-hearted, funny and insightfull dame. Linda Fairstein has done one hell of a job."

Elissa Schappell

"Linda Fairstein's two decades as a prosecutor of sex crimes infuses Final Jeopardy with riveting authenticity."

Reading Group Guide

FINAL JEOPARDY
Linda Fairstein

Questions and Topics For Discussion

1. What unique perspective does Linda Fairstein’s background—head of the Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office—allow her to bring to her novel? How much of the author do you think there is in Alexandra Cooper?

2. How would you describe Alex? What are her strengths and weaknesses? Is her professional persona at all different from her private one?

3. This novel blends a classic whodunit with multiple other story lines. While involved with Isabella Lascar’s murder, for instance, Alex is also trying to bring a serial rapist to justice and is helping her staff try a number of other cases. Did you like the way that the various stories were woven together?

4. What roles do Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace play in Alex’s life? What do they have in common with each other, and what makes each unique?

5. Did Isabella Lascar remind you of anyone in particular? Had you mentally cast a particular movie star in the role?

6. FINAL JEOPARDY feels strikingly realistic. The scene in which men are selected for a line-up, for instance, offers a memorably authentic view of the day-to-day workings of police department. Did other, similar details stand out for you? Did you learn anything new in this novel?

7. Why is Martha’s Vineyard such an important place for Alex? Why is it a significant setting for Isabella’s murder—both for Alex and for the story as a whole?

8. Alex admits that her mother doesn’t understand how she is able to do her job and sleep at night. How do you think this constant backdrop of sexual violence affects her? What kind of tone does it give this story?

9. Despite the fact that Isabella was killed in front of Alex’s home and that they were physically similar, Alex refuses to believe that she is in danger. And when she starts receiving strange phone calls at home, she does nothing. Why do you think that she doesn’t take these personal threats that seriously?

10. On page 53, Alex explains why her job is so important and satisfying to her, despite the disturbing cases she’s surrounded by every day. What kind of person does it take to do that job? Do you think that you would be able to do it?

11. Alex is single and doesn’t live close to her family, but she has an impressive support system of friends and colleagues. Who are the key people in her life and how are each of them important to her?

12. Years earlier, Alex’s fiancé, Adam, was killed in an accident just before their wedding. How do you think Adam’s death continues to affect her?

13. This novel—and Alex’s life—is largely dominated by accounts of men’s violence against women. How did learning the killer’s identity, then, stack up with your expectations?

Introduction

Reading Group Guide

FINAL JEOPARDY

1. What unique perspective does Linda Fairstein's background -- head of the Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office -- allow her to bring to her novel? How much of the author do you think there is in Alexandra Cooper?

2. How would you describe Alex? What are her strengths and weaknesses? Is her professional persona at all different from her private one?

3. This novel blends a classic whodunit with multiple other story lines. While involved with Isabella Lascar's murder, for instance, Alex is also trying to bring a serial rapist to justice and is helping her staff try a number of other cases. Did you like the way that the various stories were woven together?

4. What roles do Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace play in Alex's life? What do they have in common with each other, and what makes each unique?

5. Did Isabella Lascar remind you of anyone in particular? Had you mentally cast a particular movie star in the role?

6. FINAL JEOPARDY feels strikingly realistic. The scene in which men are selected for a line-up, for instance, offers a memorably authentic view of the day-to-day workings of police department. Did other, similar details stand out for you? Did you learn anything new in this novel?

7. Why is Martha's Vineyard such an important place for Alex? Why is it a significant setting for Isabella's murder -- both for Alex and for the story as a whole?

8. Alex admits that her mother doesn't understand how she is able to do her job and sleep at night. How do you think this constant backdrop of sexual violence affects her? What kind of tone does it give this story?

9. Despite the fact that Isabella waskilled in front of Alex's home and that they were physically similar, Alex refuses to believe that she is in danger. And when she starts receiving strange phone calls at home, she does nothing. Why do you think that she doesn't take these personal threats that seriously?

10. On page 53, Alex explains why her job is so important and satisfying to her, despite the disturbing cases she's surrounded by every day. What kind of person does it take to do that job? Do you think that you would be able to do it?

11. Alex is single and doesn't live close to her family, but she has an impressive support system of friends and colleagues. Who are the key people in her life and how are each of them important to her?

12. Years earlier, Alex's fiancé, Adam, was killed in an accident just before their wedding. How do you think Adam's death continues to affect her?

13. This novel -- and Alex's life -- is largely dominated by accounts of men's violence against women. How did learning the killer's identity, then, stack up with your expectations?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Final Jeopardy (Alexandra Cooper Series #1) 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 84 reviews.
KBAZ More than 1 year ago
I had not read this author before, took me by surprise the book was so good. In addition, there is good material in this work for learning how things operate in investigative situations . . . I will definitely be looking for Fairstein's other books!
Shera Carriker More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed the book! It was a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the last book in the Alex Cooper series and loved it. I wanted to start from the beginnig and read the whole series. This book is so boring that I can't bring myself to finish reading it. I am halfway through and nothing extiting has happened since the very beginning. I am going to finish it eventually, I just hope the other books in this series are better than this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A fine debut that introduces an interesting cast and a decent mystery. I plan to read the rest of her books, anticipating she will grow as a writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A really good read. I enjoyed it "muchly". The fifth star is for "no graphic, smutty sex scenes"
PierresFamily More than 1 year ago
Authentic, riveting, unpredictable - what more can you ask, of a crime novel. As someone who has a decaded-and-a-half of time working in the criminal justice system, I especially appreciate that her characters are not stock stereotypes, and that her situations are true-to-life, rather than simplistic. I wish that television so-called "procedural" producers would learn from her example, especially in the area of authenticity.
GrandmaLee More than 1 year ago
Having read some of Linda Fairstein's earlier books I was looking forward to meeting Ms. Cooper. She does not disappoint. The book is well paced, well written and most enjoyable. Will definitely follow the Alexandra Cooper series.
mandfs More than 1 year ago
If you like a legal thriller, you'll love this book. Linda Fairstein keeps you completely riveted to Final Jeopardy. It has it all - crime, romance, suspense. An excellent read.
Whoafish More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have ever read from this author. I really enjoyed it and purchased the rest of the series for this author and am currently on the 3rd book in the series. I like the way she writes and love that she uses the same characters in every book. I definitely recommend these books, you will enjoy them!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has a very detailed description of the life of a sex crimes prosecutor. Great read for anyone interested in mystery and courtroom drama. The twists and turns will drive you crazy trying to figure out who did it. Great!
Kiean 6 months ago
I don't care for the writing of someone who single handedly condemned the lives of five black and latino children back in 1989, and who, to this day doesn't acknowledge her wrongdoings. Its actually insane that these men have now been exonerated since 2002 and she has had a successful career as a novelist since. As this information is just now coming to light to a new generation, we seek to correct what our justice system has failed to do. I, a latino college student and budding writer will be boycotting my favorite store's services until all works of Linda Fairstein are pulled from the shelves, and online stores, an action, I hope and know many of my peers will take part in. I ask you Barnes & Noble and its customers from the bottom of my heavy heart to disconnect your store from, this author and to not purchase this book. Thank you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this series. Read this one when it was new and wanted to re-read it. I wasn't disappointed. All the characters were there, plot was solid, action good. This was the first effort in fiction for a talented writer who has the background to write knowledgeably. You can't go wrong with Coop and the group. It was nice to be reacquainted with them from the beginning.
sensitivemuse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought, as a Law and Order SVU fan, this might be something I might like (except in book format). Well, it was all right at first. I liked Alexandra. A very strong willed character, although she had her girlie moments, she wasn¿t a stone cold woman of ice either. That was good. Her friendship with Mike Chapman was really fun to read. Chapman made the story more interesting with his sense of humor. His jabs towards Alexandra (and vice versa) were fun to read. The plot was all right. It wasn¿t really that exciting. The only twist was who Isabella¿s male companion was, but it wasn¿t that shocking or revealing. However, I¿m glad Alexandra didn¿t mope about and became dramatic diva over that moment. I do like seeing her all up in a temper though - that was really entertaining to watch. So, the plot was rather mediocre, and although I did like the characters, it wasn¿t enough to make me fully enjoy the book. What rather killed it for me was, it was rather dry. So dry, it took me a while to finish a book that only had 336 pages. Oh boy, did it ever drag. On top of that, Alexandra also handles many other cases and it¿s all mixed in with the main case featuring Isabella. Now although this is realistic, to me it felt like it was added to fill in pages of the book. It wasn¿t exciting, it didn¿t particularly interest me, and there were many minor characters added you could not keep track without at least back tracking to figure out which case she¿s talking about now. It came to the point where I skimmed through most of the last third of the book, read the grand climax (which wasn¿t that great in the first place) and then I was done. I was just curious what was so great about these series and I just wanted to see how it was like. I realize this is the first book so of course, perhaps books after this one are better. Yet, I¿m not sure if I¿m going to get the second book. If it¿s like this one, I will pass. This might not be for everyone, but those that are into legal thrillers are welcome to try and see for yourselves.
raizel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This author was recommended by a friend, so I read the first book in the series. It was an easy read with some likable people. I guessed part of the mystery, although not the actual person. In fact, even when the heroine is being threatened by the murderer, I kept waiting for the "real" killer to appear. For a smart lawyer, Alexandra Cooper sure forgets to mention an awful lot of important clues to anyone else. There are references to Vera Caspery's Laura (the dead body found at Alexandra's vacation home is not Alexandra after all) and other stories. Some interesting examples of sex crimes, no doubt based on Linda Fairstein's work running the sex Crimes Unit of the DA's office in Manhattan.
enemyanniemae on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fairstein was an an assistant DA in the sex crimes unit in New York City and her main character is a... guess what?... YES, an assistant DA in the sex crimes unit in Manhattan. The story she weaves is instantly fascinating. What would it be like to wake up to news of your own purder? Toss in a glamorous movie star (the real murder victim) and a few other choice bits and you have a great mystery.I did NOT figure out whodunit... I will be looking for more in the Alexandra Cooper series.
Lizparker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Book one in the Alexandra Cooper series.When Alex lets her friend,movie star Isabella Lascar to use her home on Marthas Vineyard, she didnt expect her to be murdered. After her boyfriend becomes a suspect, Cooper and her friend Detective Mike Chapman investigate whether Isabella was the intended victim or if Alex herself was the target. Well written, not spectacular but an easy book to read.
miyurose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read a couple of the later books in this series, so it was nice to go back to the beginning. Some of the twists I guessed, some I didn't. I did find myself skimming through some of the stories of cases past. I'm not sure what their purpose was, except to fill space. They didn't tell me a whole lot about the characters or the current story.
LiteraryFeline on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alexander Cooper is Manhattan¿s top sex-crimes prosecutor who finds herself a part of a murderous tangled web. A ¿friend¿ is murdered while staying at Alex¿s home in the Vineyard and everyone at first suspects that Alex was the victim. This book includes unexpected twists and turns that leave the reader guessing. The main character comes across as a little rich girl at times, but she definitely is gutsy and someone to admire. I found the first half of this book slow, perhaps because I did not have the time to sit down and let myself get into it or perhaps it was because the story seemed to take a while to gain momentum. I will definitely look for the second book in the series.
voodoocat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fairstein was an an assistant DA in the sex crimes unit in New York City and her main character is a... guess what?... YES, an assistant DA in the sex crimes unit in Manhattan. The story she weaves is instantly fascinating. What would it be like to wake up to news of your own purder? Toss in a glamorous movie star (the real murder victim) and a few other choice bits and you have a great mystery.I did NOT figure out whodunit... I will be looking for more in the Alexandra Cooper series.
jepeters333 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The supposed victim is Asst DA Alexandra Cooper, but Alex is still alive; the dead woman is Alex's friend, the actress Isabella Lascar, who was staying in Alex's Cape Cod house; was the intended victim Alex or Isabella; Alex's friend Mike Chapman (NYPD homicide) is her temporary bodyguard and they work together to figure out who has a reason to kill either Alex or Isabella; this is the first book in the Alex Cooper series.
skinglist on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
OK, I'm officially insane. Found this copy at St. Vinnie's on Peel Street in Adelaide. It was 15 cents and I had to get it because it had a prettier cover than the copy I already have--and was in my bag at the same time.This was a great re-read, I really fell in love with Mikey again, what a great character. I also have a new appreciation for this series given my obsession with SVU and LF's ties to it.Am now re-reading the series in order.
nomadreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(Review from rereading)Final Jeopardy is a delight. It's a good mystery; it's so good I didn't even remember the twist until I was in the revealing scene. Many writers create good mysteries, but Linda Fairstein manages to combine a good mystery with an education about New York City, history, literature and the arts. I always learn things in her books, and the treasure trove of knowledge led me to reread her novels more than the mysteries themselves. Final Jeopardy is intense, thrilling and smart. Alexandra Cooper remains one of my favorite fictional characters. I appreciate Fairstein's insight into the actual caseload of an ADA; it's not Law & Order, where the lawyers try one case at a time. Cooper's days and nights are filled with many intriguing cases. Still, at the end of the day, Alexandra Cooper is someone I want to meet for dinner and a bottle of wine. I care about what books she's read. Perhaps what surprised me most in this rereading of an old favorite was how familiar Alexandra was from the beginning. Now, eleven books in, she's been a companion through the years, but she was relatable instantly.Everytime I finish a Linda Fairstein novel, I encourage others to start from the beginning of the series. It's refreshing to reaffirm my own advice.
kimmy0ne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love the start to this great series of books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Predictable and definitely not purchasing any other in this series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Competently written, well paced, well - defined characters, but ultimately boring; not thrilling at all and not particularly mysterious.