Silent Mercy by Linda Fairstein is the 13th book in the “Alex Cooper” legal thriller series. Publisher: Dutton, March 2011

It’s the middle of the night. Prosecutor Alexandra Cooper is called to Harlem’s Mount Neboh Baptist Church, a beautiful house of worship originally built as a synagogue. But the crowd gathered there isn’t interested in architecture, or even prayer. They’ve come for the same reason Alex has: to find out why the body of a young woman has been decapitated, set on fire, and left burning on the church steps.

The only identifiable artifact on the charred remains is the imprint of a Star of David necklace seared into the victim’s flesh. Alex wonders if the fire was meant to destroy this woman’s body, or to draw attention to it. Her fears are confirmed days later, when a second corpse is found at a cathedral in Little Italy. The killings look like serial hate crimes, but the apparent differences in the victims’ beliefs seem to eliminate a religious motive. Convinced that another young woman is bound to die, Alex mines the depths of Manhattan’s many houses of worship to find a connection between the victims—and in the process uncovers a terrible and perilous truth that takes her far beyond the scope of her investigation, and directly into the path of terrible danger.

This was a good read. A charred headless body was left on a church’s step and it will take the efforts of Alex, Mike and Mercer to bring this killer to justice. I love seeing NYC through the author’s eye, although the detail sometimes gets overwhelming, but otherwise a great read and I look forward to the next book in this thrilling series.

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