Lynda La Plante's name was always one I recognized, but until last year I hadn't read any of her books. That quickly changed and I've added her to my list of favourite British mystery authors. La Plante writes a number of series and many have been adapted for television, such as Above Suspicion and Prime Suspect. (These are incredibly popular at the library.)
Bourbon Street Books latest La Plante release is Backlash, the eighth book in the series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Anna Travis.
A late night traffic stop on a van advertising clowns and kid's parties yields one surprise the uniformed officers didn't expect - the body of a woman hidden in back. The driver, Henry Oates, claims that she wasn't the first - and mentions two other young women who have been missing for years. One of the missing is a thirteen year old girl. Her case is one that Detective Chief Superintendent James Langton never solved and it haunts him. But then Oates recants.....Still recovering from surgery that has immobilized him, Langton is forced to let Anna and her team work the case without him.
I was eager to reconnect with Travis and the rest of the team. Anna has still never really dealt with the death of her fiancée and drives herself to keep her mind and body occupied. She's a character I really like - she's smart, tough and driven. My opinion of Langton is ever-changing - he's rude, brusque, opinionated, but just when I think he has no redeeming qualities, he surprises me. Travis is quickly catching up to her superior in leadership and deductive skills. Familiar supporting characters provided a comfortable home base.
"She was gaining a reputation as a very dedicated officer with her tough no -nonsense attitude and almost obsessive attention to detail."
As always, La Plante has crafted a wonderfully involved plot that was a treat to read. We have the guilty party right at the beginning, but it's up to the team to prove their case. And this is where La Plante shines. I really enjoy the pacing of British mysteries - the careful, methodical piecing together of information obtained through painstaking legwork. The case builds layer upon layer, but La Plante has more than one twist up her sleeve before the final reveal.
La Plante has a screenwriting background and some of the descriptions, action and dialogue read like a screenplay - short and to the point, at times pointedly directional. But, I stopped noticing this about fifty pages in and became engrossed in the case. Backlash kept me interested right 'til the last pages. Fans of police procedurals - this one's for you. Those that haven't read previous Travis books would be able to jump in and enjoy this book, but I always enjoy starting a series from book one. (Above Suspicion) Read an excerpt of Backlash. Definitely a recommended read.
"Lynda La Plante's novels, including the Prime Suspect novels, have all been international bestsellers. She is an honorary fellow of the British Film Institute and a member of the UK Crime Writers Awards Hall of Fame. She runs her own television production company, and lives in London and Easthampton, New York." You can find Linda La Plante on Facebook and on Twitter.
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