by Linda Fairstein
District Attorney Alex Cooper has taken readers on pulse-pounding escapades in some of New York City’s most intriguing corners. Now the dazzling DA is embroiled in a murder investigation that leads to hallowed ground for book lovers: the majestic New York Public Library. Set in the world of sumptuous rare books --- and the obsessed collectors who are willing to pursue their trade at any cost --- Lethal Legacy is the story of a family embroiled in deadly rivalries over inherited literary treasures.
When Alex is called to the scene of an apparent assault, the victim refuses treatment and is tight-lipped with police. Before Alex can determine which side of the law Tina Barr is on, her attacker returns, and the case quickly escalates into a murder investigation. Barr was a master conservator of stunning printed works, but was she capable of forgery? Following a trail of priceless evidence, some of it hidden between the lavish covers of renowned books, Alex finds herself at the center of a true page-turner, unlocking buried history within the secret rooms of America’s most enticing library.
The following questions are designed to enhance your reading group’s discussion of Linda Fairstein’s Lethal Legacy. We hope they will enrich your experience of this dazzling thriller.
Click here to watch a video in which Linda Fairstein discusses the story behind Lethal Legacy.
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1. What makes this an ideal case for Alex, Mike, and Mercer? How do their special skills help them to navigate the world of the Hunts? What makes the Hunt family different from any other suspects they have encountered?
2. How did you interpret Tina Barr’s cryptic description of her work? If you were in her position, would you have gone to the police after the first attack?
3. How did your impressions of Minerva Hunt change throughout the novel? Did you trust Karla? What was your theory about why she was found with the jewel-encrusted copy of the Bay Psalm Book?
4. Discuss the different motivations of the collectors portrayed in Lethal Legacy, from Jonah Krauss to Alger Herrick. What makes them covet particular objects?
5. Why is it important to preserve early volumes such as the Bay Psalm Book? In a digital age, why do printed books matter? What did you learn about the history of book printing and mapmaking by reading Lethal Legacy?
6. Though Lethal Legacy is entirely a work of fiction, in 2006 a real-life map thief admitted to stealing dozens of valuable specimens, targeting institutions ranging from the New York Public Library to Yale’s Beinecke Library. In your opinion, what (and who) drives the high market value of centuries-old maps? What value, besides a financial one, do these artifacts have in Lethal Legacy?
7. Most of Linda Fairstein’s fans know that she worked in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for more than twenty years. But not many fans know that she collects rare books. How does it affect your reading to know that Fairstein is a rare-book lover herself?
8. What was the legacy of the Jasper Hunts, in emotional terms? Was Jasper Hunt Junior mad or brilliant? Or both? Is he solely responsible for the feuds between the Hunt siblings?
9. Does Jane Eliot appreciate rare books in a way that is different from the other characters? How was her childhood enhanced by life in the New York Public Library?
10. Jonah Krauss describes how his life changed after he bought an early edition of The Great Gatsby. If you could pay any price, which rare book would you most want to own?
11. In chapter five, Alex fights for access to California’s DNA database, trying to clinch her case against Jamal Griggs. DNA evidence also affects the Hunt family tree. Should America adopt Britain’s Police and Justice Act, which allows police to collect and retain DNA from anyone who is arrested?
12. Alex has a harrowing cab ride on her way to meet Luc for dinner. How does that evening capture the two sides of her life: the gritty, constant threat of retaliation and an evening with a man who loves to surround her with luxury? What makes Luc the perfect antidote to her stressful job?
13. How did Travis Forbes become powerful? How is his power different from the Hunt family’s?
14. Discuss the New York Public Library’s role as a character in the novel. What did you discover about its unique history? What has helped this landmark endure into the twenty-first century?
15. Alex has encountered many criminal minds since her debut in Final Jeopardy. Do all perps, including the ones in Lethal Legacy, share a common weakness?
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"A nifty mystery that starts off as a harrowing missing-person-homicide case, but blossoms into something far deeper. Lethal Legacy is great --- my personal favorite in this bestselling series."
"[The characters’] adventures are reminiscent of the quests of Indiana Jones or National Treasure. Bibliophiles and Fairstein fans are in for a treat."
"Fascinating…curiosity picqued, readers will surely want to find out more."
"Entertaining…. Full of fun information about the NYPL."