Summary and book reviews of The Bone Vault by Linda Fairstein

The Bone Vault

By Linda Fairstein

The Bone Vault
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  • Hardcover: Jan 2003,
    400 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2004,
    528 pages.

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Book Summary

The New York Times bestselling author and renowned former Manhattan prosecutor follows her Nero Award-winning The Deadhouse with a mesmerizing new Alexandra Cooper novel set at the crossroads of big money, high culture, and murder...

The Bone Vault begins in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's glorious Temple of Dendur, where wealthy donors have gathered to celebrate a controversial new exhibit.

An uneasy mix of scholarship, showbiz, and aggressive marketing, "A Modern Bestiary" will be a joint venture of the Met and the American Museum of Natural History. With its IMAX time trips and Rembrandt refrigerator magnets, the "Bestiary" has raised fierce opposition from some of New York's museum elite.

Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper, off duty for the evening, observes the developing tensions with bemused interest until Met director Pierre Thibodaux pulls her aside. He needs her advice. There's an urgent problem out at a loading dock on a New Jersey pier.

A Twelfth Dynasty mummified princess, enclosed for eternity in a huge stone sarcophagus, is about to take a long voyage to Cairo as part of a routine museum exchange. But Cleopatra is missing, and in her place is the not-so-mummified body of a woman many centuries younger than her royal predecessor.

Who is this woman with the small physique, the dark hair, and the shiny barrette? What is her connection, if any, to the rarefied world of priceless art and objects? And how and when did she become entombed in the sarcophagus?

Teaming with cops Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, Alex must explore behind the scenes at the elegant but severe Metropolitan, travel uptown to the remote setting of the Cloisters and its medieval trove of funerary art, and on to the massive array of beasts and bones at the Museum of Natural History. Somewhere deep within the bowels of one of these great cultural centers, a killer may wait.

Atmospheric, chilling, and rich with the kind of procedural authenticity that only Linda Fairstein can provide, The Bone Vault is a page-turning tour de force from one of crime writing's brightest stars.

Chapter One

I spent a long afternoon at the morgue. I had left my desk at the Manhattan district attorney's office shortly after lunch to review autopsy results on a new case with the deputy chief medical examiner. A nineteen-year-old, dressed in an outfit she had bought just hours earlier, was killed outside a social club as she waited on a street corner for her friends.

Now I walked a quiet corridor, again surrounded by death. I did not want to be here. I paused at the entrance of an ancient tomb, its painted limestone facade concealing the false doorway to an underground burial chamber. The faded reliefs that decorated its walls showed offerings of food and drink that would nourish the spirit of the dead. I didn't harbor any hope that the young woman whose body I had seen today would ever be in need of the kind of good meal displayed before me.

I made my way past a granite lion and nodded at the uniformed guard, who slouched on a folding chair beside the elegantly...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. THE BONE VAULT opens with Alexandra Cooper returning from the morgue and closes with her discovering a controversial collection of bones deep in the Museum of Natural History. How are these two outwardly dissimilar bone vaults linked thematically?

  2. The investigation into Katrina Grooten's murder takes Alex through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters, and the Natural History museum. What do these museums have in common, and how is each distinct?

  3. Alex says that she feels fortunate that her boyfriend Jake Tyler's unpredictable schedule helps him understand the demands of her own profession. But what are the drawbacks to this type of relationship? Do her concerns that Jake is leaking information about ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
Author Blurb Nelson DeMille
The Bone Vault is nothing short of brilliant -- witty dialogue, beautiful writing, fascinating locales, superb plot, and a cool cast of characters.

Author Blurb Patricia Cornwell
Linda Fairstein's continued rise into the rarefied realm of great crime fiction seems unstoppable. She is beginning to defy gravity. The Bone Vault will spin your head and race you away on a blast of originality, chilling real-world detail, and turbo-charged writing.

Author Blurb Frances Fyfield
A tour de force. Shivers not only the bones but the marrow.

Author Blurb Lisa Scottoline
A page-turning tour into some of the deepest and most mysterious recesses of New York's great museums!

Library Journal - Rebecca House Stankowski,

Fairstein returns with another thriller starring popular protagonist Alexandra Cooper (Deadhouse), a Manhattan assistant district attorney....Fairstein has already had some success with this series; if she imbues Alex with more depth, she'll have a real winner. Despite that flaw, this is recommended for public libraries.

Booklist - Vanessa Bush

.... romantic tension, the fast-paced plotting, and the New York setting will keep fans of Fairstein's series engrossed.

Kirkus Reviews

Despite the Cornwellesque title, the fearless plunge into the dirty waters of museum politics suggests that Fairstein (The Deadhouse, 2001, etc.) may have found her own voice at last.

Publishers Weekly

.... Readers also learn about such subjects as Inuit funeral rituals, the average growth rate for human hair, the habits of stalkers and rapists and modern techniques of sadomasochism. Fairstein has a heavy-handed way of working this information into the dialogue, and the plot resolution strains credibility. Yet the quick-witted Cooper is as likable as ever, and fans of Fairstein's other books will find this satisfying-if not standout-fare.

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