Monday, 28 October 2013

Book review : Wrongful Death - Lynda La Plante

Recently inducted into the Crime Writing Hall of Fame, Lynda La Plante is one of the UK's top crime writers, as well as having a formidable reputation in TV thriller drama. She is also the first layperson ever to be honoured with membership of the Forensic Science Association. I therefore came to her latest novel, Wrongful Death, with very high expectations. I wasn't disappointed, finding it to be a really enjoyable read.

The book features DCI Anna Travis who has appeared in previous novels, and also refers back to a prior case involving dangerous drug dealer Anthony Fitzpatrick, "the one that got away" for colleague and former lover DCS James Langton. Even if you have never picked up a Lynda La Plante novel in your life, you needn't worry though, as the book gives you all of the background information that you need.

This novel centres around a cold case, that of London nightclub owner Josh Reynolds who apparently shot himself six months earlier. Nothing suspicious was detected at the time and the case was swiftly closed and ruled as a suicide. Then a notorious criminal suggests that it may have been a murder and a whole new can of worms is opened.

To add some fireworks to the mix, Anna is given the help of FBI agent Jessie Dewar, an expert in criminal behaviour and crime scenes over from the States on a research project. She has a real knack of rubbing people up the wrong way and is a total know-all, leaving all her UK colleagues wondering if she really does have all the answers or just thinks she does. 

In parallel, Anna is invited on to Jessie's turf when a place comes up at an FBI training course at Quantico. She heads off Stateside, managing to wrap up a cold case as part of her training, but wants to keep her fingers in all the pies, uncovering key information in the Reynolds case despite being miles from home. Despite kindling a new romance with one of her FBI instructors (a storyline that I'm sure will be picked up in a future episode), Jessie drops everything to come back home and put the original case to bed.

Whereas traditional crime fiction focuses on one single crime (or one single serial killer), Lynda La Plante has several fires burning at the same time. I could really sense her TV background coming through as, just as in a soap opera, there are several plotlines unfolding simultaneously with different characters being linked into all of them. I got the impression that there were feelers being put out for upcoming plotlines, as well as references to previous storylines.

This did at times leave me feeling that the focus on the central plotline was slightly diluted, with my attention being taken away and sent in too many directions at once, but it does lead to a fast-paced, action-packed read. I'll be looking forward to catching up with these characters again, to find out what they all get up to next and to discover how the complicated relationships between them pan out.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £18.99

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (12 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471125823
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471125829

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Book review : The Engagements - J. Courtney Sullivan

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