Death Dance by Linda Fairstein Sphere, HK$105 In 1980, when Linda Fairstein was a young prosecutor, a musician, Helen Hagnes Mintiks, was murdered in New York City's Metropolitan Opera House between acts of a performance. In Death Dance, Fairstein's eighth Alexandra Cooper murder mystery, a similar crime is committed, except this time it's a ballet dancer rather than a violinist who is thrown to her death. Based as it is on a real-life incident - and with the protagonist of the series in a job Fairstein once had as head of the Manhattan District Attorney's sex crimes unit - Death Dance boasts a gutsy authenticity. The story, which revolves around politics and ambition behind the scenes in New York's theatrical world, is aided by factoids that lift the novel above competing titles churned out by the hundreds. Although Death Dance adheres to a format typical of the genre - in which all is wrapped up neatly - Fairstein's book doesn't read like the literary equivalent of painting by numbers. That's probably because, as a cover blurb by Michael Connelly says, 'She tells it like it is.'