Fatal Fashion: Linda Fairstein on ‘Killer Look’ (Q&A w/ event details)

Linda Fairstein will present her new novel, Killer Look, at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison this Tuesday evening, August 2nd, at 7:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Please call the store at 203-245-3959 for seating availability. Copies of Killer Look will be available for purchase/signing. Location: 768 Boston Post Rd.

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Monday morning usually equates to … well, Monday mourning—but that’s not the case today, given the unrivaled stature of my virtual companion: Linda Fairstein.

Linda’s newest novel—the eighteenth in her venerable Alexandra (“Alex”) Cooper series, Killer Look (Dutton)—was published last week and has already been receiving rave reviews. A perennial New York Times bestseller whose books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, she will launch a new series for young readers this fall with Into the Lion’s Den, featuring twelve-year-old amateur detective Devlin Quick. Linda 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. She makes her home in Manhattan and on Martha’s Vineyard.

Linda Fairstein

Praise for Killer Look:

“[Alexandra Cooper] just keeps getting better and better…It’s not a surprise to say that this is an excellent story told by a champion ‘teller of suspense tales.’ Linda Fairstein never disappoints!”— Suspense Magazine

“Linda Fairstein is still keeping it fresh…not without drama that leaves us gripping the edge of the runway.”— The Martha’s Vineyard Times

“Linda Fairstein’s latest…combines the drama of your favorite detective shows with a strong female heroine and a healthy dose of glitz and glam.”— Chicago Splash

From the publisher:

New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein delivers a heart-pounding thriller that explores the dark secrets of Manhattan’s iconic fashion scene in her latest Alexandra Cooper novel.
 
New York City is one of the fashion capitals of the world, well-known for its glamour and style.  Nowhere is this more apparent than on the runway, where American haute couture continually astounds with its creativity, daring, and innovation in the name of beauty.  Yet high fashion means high stakes, as Alex Cooper quickly discovers when businessman and designer Wolf Savage is found dead in an apparent suicide, mere days before the biggest show of his career. When the man’s daughter insists Savage’s death was murder, the case becomes more than a media sensation: It is a race to find a killer in a world created entirely out of fantasy and illusion.

With her own job at the DA’s office in jeopardy, and the temptation to self-medicate her PTSD with alcohol almost too strong to resist, Alex is not anyone’s first choice for help.  But she is determined to uncover the grime—and the possible homicide—beneath the glitz.  Along with detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, Alex must penetrate the twisted roots and mixed motives among the high-profile players in the Garment District.  The investigation takes the trio from the missing money in Wolf Savage’s international fashion house to his own recovery from addiction; from the role of Louisiana Voodoo in his life to his excessive womanizing; and to the family secrets he kept so well-hidden, even from those closest to him—just as things are about to get deadly on the catwalk.

With Killer Look, Linda Fairstein proves once again why she is the “Queen of Intelligent Suspense.”*

*Lee Child

Now, Linda Fairstein struts her stuff for readers …

Killer Look

John Valeri: Killer Look plants us firmly back in Alex Cooper’s head after a partial diversion with Devil’s Bridge. What was it like reacquainting yourself with her – and were there any after effects from writing in Det. Mike Chapman’s POV?

Linda Fairstein: The fact that this series of crime novels was created 17 books ago specifically to feature Alex Cooper as the protagonist – a strong young professional woman in a non-traditional role – really means that she is always swimming around in my brain somewhere. It isn’t so much that I had to reacquaint myself with her – she is rarely out of my consciousness when I sit down to write. Instead, since she had such a terrifying experience in Devil’s Bridge, and this book begins just three weeks later, I had to look at her and write her in an entirely different way. Those of us who write series know how important it is to keep our characters evolving over time. Not only did I get to write that last novel from Mike Chapman’s POV, which is something I had long wanted to do, but I knew it would force me to come back to Alex with an entirely different lens. In Killer Look, I’m happy to be back in Coop’s voice, with no serious after-effects of letting Mike have his say.

JV: This book is set against the backdrop of New York’s fashion scene. How does this enhance the narrative – and what did you find most fascinating about researching the glitz and glamour of the catwalk (and beyond)?

LF: Most of my returning readers know that New York City is a “character” in my series. I love to set my stories is some iconic location, which allows me to layer in some of the rich history – and mystery – of Manhattan. I love fashion and style, and have long wanted to explore the one-square mile of the city’s real estate that has been known as the Garment District for more than a century and a half. For me, the locale does enhance the stories I tell. These books are not just car chases and shoot-outs, and I think my readers enjoy the fact that they enter a real world within which the actions occurs. The biggest surprise that my research turned up is the magnitude of the business side of fashion globally, and how many motives there might be to kill a powerful executive who tries to dominate that world.

JV: What role does the media play in our perceptions of crime and justice – and how do the specifics of this storyline allow you to offer commentary on that?

LF: In my 30 years as a prosecutor, I became keenly aware of the power of the media to influence the way we see our criminal justice system working … or not working. And the media is not a monolith. There are responsible journalists who dig out facts and try to get the story right, and there are sleazy reporters who just want to snag a headline to get attention, and don’t even care whether the information is valid. Throughout the series, I’ve used my own experience to show the role of the media through the course of a high-profile investigation and trial.

JV: Alex is suffering from PTSD, given the events of Devil’s Bridge. In what ways does this (further) humanize her – and how do you see fiction as being a lens through which to reveal the harshness and humanity of realities such as these?

LF: In Killer Look, I have the opportunity to portray Alex as a victim, for the first time in the series. It has been her job and her passion to help survivors of sexual assault take on their attackers and take on the system itself for 17 novels, and now she stands in their shoes. This story takes place only 3 weeks after her rescue, and although she is in denial about her PTSD, it threatens to undermine both her career and her personal life. I have always seen fiction – and my books in particular – as a place to examine serious issues through the filter of story-telling. For me, it has been about exposing crimes of violence and the effect of victimization on the characters. The novels are meant to entertain, of course, but I think also that I bring to the genre all my years of prosecutorial experience in a unique field.

JV: You’ve been dubbed the “Queen of Intelligent Suspense” (and by Lee Child, no less!). What motivates you to continue stretching your creative limits – and to what internal standards do you hold your novels before sharing them with the world?

LF: Lee Child’s most generous quote is one of the greatest gifts bestowed on me – I treasure his words! All my young life, I wanted to be a writer. I feel so fortunate to have been able to accomplish that dream – not only to write, but to be published for so long now. I take all the responsibility quite seriously. Crime fiction is a crowded genre – I know, because I read a lot of the competition! So when I sit down at the computer, it’s the most serious thing I can do to polish my words and make the narrative compelling. It wouldn’t be fun at all if I didn’t push myself to new places and stretch out – whether writing from Mike’s POV, which was fun to do, or turning Coop’s life upside-down. There is no point telling the same story over and over.

JV: In your opinion, what is the role of the bookstore within its community – and how might attending author events foster the reader/writer/bookseller relationship?

LF: My two favorite places in the world are bookstores and libraries. I really think these two institutions have the weight of the world on their “shoulders.” For people of any age, they represent the places we go to find joy in literature, expand our knowledge, enter worlds we didn’t know existed, and improve our minds and spirits.

I love doing author events, especially at a great independent bookstore – a rare and endangered species. It’s an opportunity for me to hear what people are reading and why so, to get feedback on my own work, and to be able to thank the great booksellers who actually place my novels, like Killer Look, in the hands of readers.

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My thanks to Linda Fairstein for her epic awesomeness and to Laura Rossi, Principal / Director of Publicity at Laura Rossi Public Relations, for greatness in equal measure.

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