Dutton, Mar 8 2011, $26.95
In an obvious ritual slaughter, a decapitated severely burned female body is found outside Harlem's Mount Neboh Baptist Church. She is identified by her rap sheet as activist Naomi Gersh. Her head lies just outside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. A second mutilated corpse is found just outside Old St. Patrick's Church. The victim, whose tongue was ripped out, is excommunicated Ursula Hewitt after being ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.
Manhattan's Special Victims unit chief Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cooper and NYPD colleagues Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace investigate the ritual killings seeking a link between the two victims beyond silencing two female activists. They soon connect the Manhattan murders to homicides of a female pastor in Kentucky and a gay Pentecostal minister in Georgia. The ADA also works two other high visibility cases of a school student's claim of rape and an accusation of clerical sex abuse.
The latest Cooper investigative legal thriller (see Hell’s Gate) is an exciting action-packed tale with quite a wallop. As required but still fun is a tour of Manhattan “as an island of churches”. The story line focuses brilliantly and sharply at organized religions’ antiquated but methodical allegorical beheading of women with an avenging sword wrapped inside holiness that will lead to Linda Fairstein’s excommunication. Fast-paced within a strong whodunit, fans except religious fundamentalists will relish Silent Mercy.