Beyond the prime suspect
Once upon a time actress Helen Mirren decided to take a role as the only female police officer in an all male homicide squad for a television series. Eventually the British series made it to public television across the pond and two stars were born. Helen Mirren has since gone on to win Emmys and Oscars. And script writer, Lynda La Plante became an instant literary light amongst mystery readers. But for all the sharp writing she produced in the Prime Suspect series, some of La Plante's best work is to be found in her most recent novel, The Red Dahlia.
With her second big case and the reappearance of DCI James Langton in her life, Detective Inspector Anna Travis (first introduced in Above Suspicion) is feeling a little bit stressed. The body of a young woman has been found cut in half and drained. While clues are scarce, it's clear from the outset that the killer probably isn't done. When a connection is made to the Black Dahlia case of the 1940's, tensions rise.
What La Plante does so well is to take us into the very meticulous and often mundane procedural work a murder case requires. Leads are discovered that go nowhere, others take days to track down, and all of it takes time. Time Anna and the rest of her team don't have if they're to prevent more murders.
If you enjoyed Jane Tennison, then you'll probably find Anna a worthy successor in this suspenseful outing.