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The Kills

The Kills

A Novel

  • reading group guide
From New York Times bestselling author and former top prosecutor Linda Fairstein comes an electrifying new thriller rich with the riveting behind-the-scenes authenticity that only she can offer....
It's going to be a tough trial. Manhattan sex-crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper's case, involving an attack on investment banker Paige Vallis, would be difficult to prove even without the latest development -- it seems that Paige has something to hide.
Most of her story is clear. She'd had dinner with New York consultant Andrew Tripping three times before the March evening when she accepted his invitation to accompany him to his apartment. But what occurred that night? Why didn't she leave the apartment when he started to act strangely? What about Tripping's little boy, Dulles? What happened to the child that fateful evening? And who is the strange man whose appearance in the courtroom seems to terrify Paige?
While Alex's police detective friend Mercer Wallace helps her learn more of the sad details behind the increasingly puzzling rape case, colleague Mike Chapman is uptown in a decaying Harlem brownstone where eighty-two-year-old McQueen Ransome has been murdered, her apartment ransacked.
What could this impoverished, elderly woman have possessed that could have inspired such violence? Photographs on the wall suggest that "Queenie" was once a beautiful and voluptuous young woman who traveled to faraway places. Could there be a clue to her murder in her exotic background?
Her murder will be only the first. Others follow, as the tragic strands of the Paige Vallis and McQueen Ransome cases begin to converge in a poignant alliance of two women from very different worlds.
Faced with formidable personal and professional choices, Alex must learn the old lesson that appearances can deceive, even as she heads for a showdown in which her wits and her courage will be tested as never before.
With its winning combination of courtroom drama, historical detail, and the intriguing lore of a rare object whose fabled provenance provides a glistening thread through the story, The Kills is powerful, stylish writing from a hugely appealing crime-writing star.
  • Scribner | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743264204 | 
  • January 2004
List Price $8.99

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Reading Group Guide

THE KILLS
Linda Fairstein

Questions and Topics For Discussion

1. In THE KILLS, Alexandra Cooper’s date rape case takes a dark turn, and she once again teams up with Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace to investigate a murder. What makes the three of them such an effective team? What unique talents does each bring to the table?

2. The demands of Alex’s profession are starting to wreck havoc on her relationship with Jake Tyler. What other issues are coming between them? Do you think that Jake will return in the next book?

3. During the trail, Peter Robelon dismisses a number of female jurors, assuming that they’d be prejudiced in favor of the alleged rape victim. Instead, Alex tells us that this is a classic mistake: women are often more critical of the victim. Why is this the case? Did this information come as a surprise to you?

4. Why does Chapman prefer to handle murders rather than sexual abuse cases?

5. As Alex reviews the photographs of McQueen Ransome’s murdered body, she mentally catalogs the number of people who would also be looking through them. How is the murder investigation itself in some ways another act of violation against the victim, however unintentional?

6. What other cases—and hazards—does Alex have to contend with while dealing with Paige Vallis’s trial? What do these subplots add to the story, and what do they tell us about Alex?

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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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