Reading Group Guide
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. In Linda Fairstein’s third Alexandra Cooper novel, she tackles the world of fine art dealing—even weaving in real unsolved art crimes. How would you describe her portrayal of the New York art world? Did it surprise you? Had you ever heard of the Amber Room or the Gardner Museum heist?
2. Mercer Wallace tells Alex that they’ll find Denise Caxton’s murderer, “in spite of the devil” (p. 11). What do you think he means?
3. COLD HIT pays particular attention to the landscape of Manhattan—thanks especially to Mike Chapman’s love of local history. How does Manhattan itself become a key player in this story? Can you imagine Alex living anywhere else?
4. The night that Denise Caxton’s body is found, Alex spends a tough night awake, thinking “about the monsters who walk among us” (p. 16). Which elements of this case do you think have especially disturbed her? Where else do we see glimpses of the more sensitive, vulnerable Alex?
5. Although we get to know Denise Caxton only through the testimony of others, how would you describe her? Did you, like Alex, sometimes have trouble finding her sympathetic?
6. Chapman is able to find opportunities for wit and humor in the face of even the most horrifying crimes. What does this ability tell us about him, and what makes him such an important part of the story?
7. In what ways does being a woman make it both easier and tougher for Alex to do her job?
8. How do characters like Ruth Harwind, the surly fifteen-year-old who falsely accuses someone of rape, and Mrs. Braverman, the woman who believes aliens live upstairs from her, add to the flavor of the story?
9. In COLD HIT, the friendship between Mercer, Chapman, and Alex is tested in the most dramatic way. Describe the bond between the three of them. Are Alex and Chapman justified in feeling responsible for what happened to Mercer?
10. Do you think that Alex successfully balances her personal life with the demands and stresses of her job? What outlets does she have to help keep herself sane?
11. Linda Fairstein’s novels do not limit themselves to a single story line, but paint a much broader portrait of Alex Cooper’s world. How does her brand of storytelling compare to other, similar works? Is there another writer she reminds you of?
12. Alex jokes with Chapman and Mercer about their “jealousy” of her new boyfriend. Though her relationship with them is platonic, do you think that this joke hits close to home? Could any boyfriend possibly be as close to Alex as the two of them are?
13. Denise Caxton’s life—with her multiple lovers, shady art acquisitions, and questionable partnerships—was complicated, but the reason she was murdered was ultimately very simple. Were you surprised when you learned what really happened?
** Page numbers are all based on the paperbacks.