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The Deadhouse

Read by Blair Brown
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A richly nuanced synthesis of history and suspense.
One of New York City's most haunting buildings is the Deadhouse. This abandoned structure -- which sits on a small island in the middle of the East River like the ghostly remains of a castle -- plays in the imagination as a likely place for murder.
It's the holiday season but there's little reason for cheer at one of New York's most elite colleges. A respected professor is dead, strangled and dumped in an elevator shaft. Lola Dakota's lifeless fingers clutch a few strands of hair, and a piece of paper in her pocket reads "The Deadhouse."
Opportunistic murder seems unlikely as assistant DA Alexandra Cooper uncovers a distressing pattern of betrayal and terror. There's proof that Lola's husband wanted her dead. And why did Lola have a photograph of Charlotte Voight pinned to her office bulletin board? Charlotte left her dorm room eight months ago and vanished into the night. Are they both victims of the same predator?
Perhaps most puzzling of all are the words "The Deadhouse." What was Lola's connection to this desolate place where people once endured slow and agonizing deaths? And what danger awaits Alex as she targets Lola's killer?

1. Lola Dakota, the murder victim in THE DEADHOUSE, is a smart, ambitious woman -- even self-serving, her detractors say. Why does a woman like this keep going back to an abusive husband? How do you make sense of this kind of love-hate relationship, as Alexandra Cooper describes it?
2. Although Alex is primarily a sex crimes prosecutor, she is intimately involved in Lola Dakota's murder case. How does her position make her different from other investigators? What unique insights and techniques does she bring to the table?
3. How would you describe Alex's developing relationship with Jake Tyler? Why is she reluctant to move in with him?
4. After having refused repeated entreaties to prosecute her abusive husband, Lola agreed instead to stage her own murder in order to set him up. Why do you think that this particular plan appealed to her?
5. Early in the story, Mike Chapman reproaches Alex for not having a more traditional life. They've been close friends for many years -- why is he so insistent now that Alex settle down, start a family?
6. How does the subplot of Shirley Denzig, a young woman stalking Alex, fit into the larger story? Do you think that it will be resolved in a later novel?
7. When Jake tells Alex that she doesn't let people in easily, she responds that she is often too trusting of people and has been disappointed in the past. Do you agree with Jake's assessment? If you've read other Alex Cooper novels, can you think of instances in which she's been disappointed by people she trusted?
8. Do you think Mercer Wallace's renewed relationship with his ex-wife Vickee will change his partnership and friendship with Alex and Chapman? How has being shot has affected him?
9. Describe the world of academia that emerges in this novel. How accurate do you think this portrayal is? What motivates each of Lola's colleagues: Lavery, Shreve, Lockhart, Foote, Grenier?
10. After her argument with Jake, Alex wonders why she wasn't content to just stay and talk things through with him. Why do you think that she didn't? Similarly, why does she run first to Chapman, and why does she assume that he'll always be available to her?
11. Why do you think Chapman kept his new relationship a secret from Alex? What does this relationship tell us about him?
12. How does learning about the history of a place like Roosevelt Island add to your understanding of New York, and what does it add to the novel as a whole?
13. Chapman tells Alex that she's "the luckiest girl" he knows (p. 400), a phrase that pops back into her head later when she is in grave danger. What do you think that he means? Do you agree with him?
Photo Credit:

Blair Brown appeared on Broadway in Copenhagen (Tony Award) Cabaret, James Joyce's The Dead and Arcadia. Favorite film credits include Dogville, Continental Divide, and Altered States. On television, she starred in The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and has appeared in countless mini-series and TV movies.

More books from this author: Linda Fairstein

More books from this reader: Blair Brown