The Bone Vault

The Bone Vault

  • reading group guide
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.
  • Scribner | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743250702 | 
  • January 2003
List Price $9.99

Read an Excerpt

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... see more

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Reading Group Guide

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 her cases point to larger issues between them?
4. Do you think that Alex made the right call in taking a tough stand with Angel Alfieri? What kind of person does it take to be able to make those kinds of judgment calls every day?
5. What are Alex and Mike Chapman's favorite rooms of the Met, and what do their choices tell us about them?
6. Alex's stalker, Shirley Danzig, has followed her from THE DEAD HOUSE to this novel. What does Shirley's presence add to this story? Why do you think that Alex waited so long to tell Chapman that Shirley was back in her life?
7. Alex wants to know as many personal details as possible about the victims she encounters, while Chapman doesn't want to know the deceased any better than the facts force him t see more

About the Author

Linda Fairstein
Photo Credit:

Linda Fairstein

LINDA FAIRSTEIN, America's foremost legal expert on crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence, led the Sex Crimes Unit of the District Attorney's Office in Manhattan for twenty-five years. A Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, she is a graduate of Vassar College and the University of Virginia School of Law. Her first novel, Final Jeopardy, introduced the critically acclaimed character of Alexandra Cooper and was made into an ABC Movie of the Week starring Dana Delaney. The celebrated series has gone on to include the New York Times bestsellers Likely to Die, Cold Hit, The Deadhouse (winner of the Nero Wolfe Award for Best Crime Novel of 2001, and chosen as a "Best Book of 2001" by both The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times), The Bone Vault, The Kills, Entombed, Death Dance, and Bad Blood. Her novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Her nonfiction book, Sexual Violence, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She lives with her husband in Manhattan and on Martha's Vineyard.

Visit her website at www.lindafairstein.com.

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