The Bone Vault
Linda Fairstein
Gallery Books 2013


2013 marks the re-release of Linda Fairstein’s mystery novel The Bone Vault, originally published in 2003.  It begins with a lavish gala announcing an historic first: a cooperative exhibit hosted by The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Museum of Natural History.  The groundbreaking  blockbuster attraction is to feature the most amazing specimens of animals and fantastic creatures in art and life, in an unrivalled combination of artifacts and exhibits from both museums. Kindle at Amazon

Among the mix of elite guests, supporters, and Hollywood reps, are Alexandra Cooper a sex crimes prosecutor, and her friend, homicide detective Mike Chapman.

Cooper is insistently approached for advice on a serious matter by Met Director Pierre Thibodaux.  An Egyptian sarcophagus scheduled to be shipped to the Cairo Museum has been tampered with.  The mummy is missing, and in her place is the body of a more recently dead young woman later discovered to be former employee, Katrina Grooten.

So why did Katrina die?  What happened to the Egyptian princess, and who is responsible?  Cooper, Chapman and their colleague Mercer Wallace, from the Special Victims Squad seek to find out.

There are definitely pros and cons to this book.  Fairstein’s main characters are interesting and well formed. The politics and the macabre history of some museum acquisitions are both shocking and fascinating.  Evocative, they tear at the heart strings amidst today’s heightened awareness of moral correctness.  They will not leave you.

Linda Fairstein’s writing style focuses largely on information gathering, interviews and dialogue which can be a bit dry.  References to 9/11, although at times intense, feel a bit dated to this reader.

When she gets into great detailed descriptions, such as what happens during the search of the museum, The Bone Vault is an exciting adventure.  The story is generally slow to develop, but the latter section really takes off and is most enjoyable.

A pet peeve of this reader is when characters or information pop up out of the blue, especially near the end, to explain what has happened or tie things together.  Unfortunately the technique is used here.

At 503 pages, The Bone Vault by Linda Fairstein is a little long.  The plot is interspersed with tangential, albeit much less detailed unconnected investigations.  Trimming the fat would have produced a much more concise, connected and interesting story line, because the main premise IS interesting.  You will definitely never think of certain museum displays in the same way after reading this book.