Strengths: Fast paced and the case is original enough to capture your attention.
Weaknesses: Characterisation is not very deep in places – this is about action.
Why I read it: I’ve read this series from the start.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
I’ve always enjoyed the Anna Travis series that Lynda La Plante writes; they’re detective thrillers with page turning action. In Blood Line, Anna is back as a new Detective Chief Inspector, which means being in charge of a murder case for the first time. Unfortunately, Anna doesn’t have it too easy – she doesn’t have a body or even a victim. How will she handle the pressure? Will the team match the blood to a missing person, or are they looking for a murder that doesn’t exist?
I haven’t picked up a Lynda La Plante for about a year – I fell behind in reading the series when the publication switched from Christmas to mid-year – but this book felt a little differently written to previous books. Maybe I was forgetting something, but something felt different. The dialogue felt very stilted in places – unnatural, robotic and I felt the character of Anna had changed too. Perhaps it was a natural progression due to her different work role and her recent bereavement, but she was tetchy and annoying at times in the way she acted towards her colleagues and general public. I found her less likeable and more difficult to relate to than previous books.
This series is more about the action, rather than exquisite prose and description. It’s the case, the twists and turns that saved this book for me, along with one of the suspects. Tina is the partner of suspected victim, and boy, does she put up a good fight. She’s two faced and in your face. She also ‘one-ups’ Anna several times with her catty but wry observations. The introduction of a new police team (Paul, Brian and Helen) also breathes new life into the series. Brian is annoying (in a different way to Anna) – he’s rude and prejudiced. Paul is the sweetheart of the team (so sweet and lovely), while Helen hangs around on the fringes. It would have been nice to see Helen play a larger role to compare against Anna.
The mystery itself is unusual – a murder with no body or definite victim. The plot twists and turns in unexpected fashion until the team find themselves chasing a lead away from London on the coast. I found that the action became less interesting after that as everything slowed right down. Saying that, I’ll still be reading the eighth book in the series, Backlash, to enjoy another mystery and see if Anna’s increasingly exasperating character is part of a larger plot arc.