Legal Brief: Linda Fairstein on ‘Deadfall’ (Q&A w/ event details)

Linda Fairstein will present her new novel, Deadfall, at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison this coming Monday evening, July 31st, at 7:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public; registration is preferred and can be completed online or by calling the store at 293-245-3959. Copies of the book will be available for purchase/signing. Location: 768 Boston Post Rd.


Linda is the author of the newly released thriller, Deadfall (Dutton)—the nineteenth entry in her international and New York Times bestselling Alexandra (“Alex”) Cooper series. She 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 first book, the non-fiction Sexual Violence: Our War Against Rape (1993), chronicled the history of legislative reform in the field and was named a “Notable Book of the Year” by the New York Times. A graduate of Vassar College and the University of Virginia School of Law, Linda is a regular contributor on criminal justice issues to magazines, journals, and online publications like The Daily Beast, and she does on-air commentary for all the major television network and cable news shows. She makes her home in Manhattan and on Martha’s Vineyard.

Linda Fairstein
Linda Fairstein

Praise for Deadfall:

“The dramatic opening of bestseller Fairstein’s 19th novel featuring Manhattan prosecutor Alexandra “Coop” Cooper (after 2016’s Killer Look) is sure to jolt series fans …”—Publishers Weekly

Deadfall is ambitious and surprising in all the right ways. The emotional intensity is on par with the propulsive action, given Alex’s heightened state; this time it’s more than professional—it’s personal. Fairstein peppers the pages with an appealing combination of history and mystery, seamlessly melding murder with office politics, turf wars, gang lore, secret societies, prolonged vendettas, wildlife profiteering, and a smattering of other ethical, moral, and social issues. It’s a potent literary cocktail, and one that she pulls off with a sense of profundity. This one is a grabber from the very first page, its grip entirely unrelenting.”—Criminal Element (Note: This is an excerpt from my review)

From the publisher:

Hunting a killer within New York’s urban jungle becomes the biggest case of Alexandra Cooper’s career in New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein’s latest riveting thriller.

A wild heart beats within New York City. Amid concrete and skyscrapers, the Wildlife Conservation Society works to preserve and protect the animal kingdom both within and beyond the borders of the five boroughs. But dangerous creatures don’t always have claws and fangs, as Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper and NYPD detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace know all too well. Predators lurk close to home, and in the aftermath of the shocking assassination of an iconic public figure—someone Alex has worked with for years—the trio must unravel the motive behind the shooting to discover who is the bigger snake: the killer or the victim.

The murder investigation provides more questions than answers, as a tangled mess of secrets slowly comes to light. From street gangs to secret societies, from big-game hunting to the illegal animal trade, from New York City zoos to the highest offices in city government, Alex has her work cut out for her—especially since the task force handling the investigation, led by the US Attorney, seems to be more against her than with her. As tensions rise between Alex and the feds, she must determine just how far she is willing to go to uncover the truth—and uphold the integrity of the office she has so proudly served.

Deadfall proves once again why Linda Fairstein is hailed as “a champion teller of detective tales” (USA Today).


Recently, I had the pleasure of co-interviewing Linda and fellow prosecutor-turned-crime novelist Marcia Clark for a Q&A that will run in the next issue of The Big Thrill. Given length constraints, I was left with a few “outtakes” that I thought I’d share with you …

John Valeri: What is the role of creative license and where do you draw the line in terms of its use?

Linda Fairstein: I think creative license is a tool of the trade.  In some crime fiction – like cozies or P.I. series – there’s no need to follow all the real-life truths that were inherent in my work.  For me, writing a prosecutorial procedural, I try to stick pretty close to how things are done.  I prefer to take my liberties with my characters – keeping Alex younger, thinner, and blonder after 19 episodes!

JV: Tell us about your research of settings. Why is authenticity of time and place important and how do you achieve this?

LF: When I started my series, I made a conscious decision to use the city I love as a centerpiece of the book. New York is – by my own choice – as much a character as Coop and Chapman. I thought it would be more interesting for me to learn something new every time I wrote a book, and much more interesting for the reader – instead of car chases and shoot-outs – to be taken to real places that have their own dramatic impact and history. Most of my readers really seem to enjoy that.  As a prosecutor, it was a rude awakening to learn that many locations in New York City that seem so benign – even elegant – on the exterior, have a dark underside. So my Death Dance grew out of a real murder that occurred inside the great Metropolitan Opera House, and my Likely to Die was inspired by the murder of a young doctor working at night in Bellevue Hospital. For me, authenticity of place is critical to my stories.

JV: In what ways are your books inspired by real-life social issues? How do you endeavor to understand the intimacies of these problems, and what do you hope that your books contribute to the communal dialogue?

LF: The fact that Coop is a Special Victims’ prosecutor really means that at the outset, nineteen novels ago, I set out to tackle social issues. I wanted to show the world how the victims of these crimes had long been underserved by the criminal justice system. Now, the most popular television franchise in history – Law & Order: SVU – has done ever more to entertain and educate viewers, so it’s not so unusual any more. In Deadfall, I take on the issue of human predators who smuggle endangered species animals – which is such an important topic – and I think makes for some thrilling scenes in a crime novel.


As some of you know, I help Marcia manage her Facebook author page. (Hard to believe, but writing books, scripting television shows, filming broadcast specials, traveling for speaking engagements, and handling an appellate caseload leaves little time for social media.) One of our recurring features is #SaturdaySelfies, where we post pictures of readers (and pets!) posed with their favorite Marcia book(s). Last week, Marcia brandished her copy Deadfall—and Linda returned the favor by lounging with Snap Judgment (out August 29). The two finally met for a joint event put on by The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ on Wednesday—and you can find the video of their chat here.) Thought you might like to see the proof …



With thanks to Linda Fairstein for her continued generosity of time and thought and to Laura Rossi (Laura Rossi Public Relations) for making it all happen.

Don’t forget: The author will be at R.J. Julia in Madison on Monday, July 31st, at 7:00 p.m.

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