Alexandra Cooper is enjoying her time with her boyfriend, Luc Rouget, in Cannes. One morning, Alex is returning to Luc’s home when she discovers some ancient bones and skulls placed at the entrance. Alex tells Luc and assumes he has reported it to the police. When the police arrive to talk to Luc, it is about a far more recent body. The body of a young woman has been found in a large pond. She is dressed completely in white. Luc and Alex had hosted a dinner party the night before, a gathering in which all guests were asked to dress completely in white. In her hand is a match box advertising Luc’s new restaurant in New York. The police ask Luc if he recognizes the woman. He does. She had worked for him.
Alex had planned on spending some vacation time in France, but she gets a call from her boss, the Manhattan District Attorney. As a prosecutor in the sex crimes unit, Alex’s presence is required to deal with an explosive case. Mohammed Gil-Darsin, the son of the former dictator of the Republic of the Ivory Coast, has been accused of sexually assaulting a maid in his hotel room in New York. It is a diplomatic and public relations nightmare and Alex has the tools to deal with it.
Shortly after her return to New York, Alex is joined by Luc who is preparing to open a branch of his restaurant in the city. Things become very complicated for Luc when a body is found near the city carrying a matchbox from the yet-to-be-opened restaurant. The police in two countries are investigating the man Alex loves and she is wondering if she knows him at all.
NIGHT WATCH is the fourteenth book in the Alexandra Cooper series. It is the first book in the series that I have read. I don’t know how it compares to the other books; I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t find Alex to be a particularly compelling character but I liked the two police detectives on her team, Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace. I plan to read another book in the series to get another look at Alex. The plot was definitely “ripped from the headlines”. In fact, there are a few references to Law and Order:SVU.
The title, NIGHT WATCH, refers to one of the shifts or duty assignments on the police force, a shift that generally starts at midnight. The author also explains the painting, “Night Watch” by Rembrandt. The paintings actual name is long, naming the primary figures. It was was thought to be a painting of night watchmen on duty. Later, it was discovered to be a painting of the watchmen off duty, during the day. It is this kind of thing that makes art history so fascinating.
Linda Fairstein is an author whose books are satisfying as police procedurals and as legal thrillers, two genres in one highly readable story.