WRONGFUL DEATH - Lynda La Plante
WRONGFUL DEATH is the ninth book in the Anna Travis series from Lynda La Plante. Which therefore requires a confession. I started to struggle with this series around book 4 (DEADLY INTENT), and never managed to finish book 5 (SILENT SCREAM) or book 6 (BLIND FURY). So on the upside, I did manage to finish WRONGFUL DEATH. On the downside it was a disappointment.
Whilst the central premise, the re-investigation of the death of Josh Reynolds was an interesting idea, the cast of characters flat out didn't work for me. Can't remember the last time I've encountered so many characters that it was almost impossible to understand or connect with. In the earlier books I did finish, Anna Travis was a complicated and prickly character, but a dedicated investigator. In WRONGFUL DEATH she's still prickly and complicated, but considerably less convincing about it. A caricature.
Having said that, for the life of me I could not work out why Senior FBI Agent Jessie Dewar. What on earth she was doing there, why she had to be so universally unpleasant, difficult, opinionated, escaped me completely. Unless she was there to be the token out of step foreigner? Still can't get it straight in my own mind.
Then there's the rest of the office staff with the token over-worked, put upon one; the lazy, flittery one who never does anything but makes a lot of noise anyway, and the steady bloke in the background. Just a few too many caricatures.
Not helped by the presence somewhere in the upper echelons of DCS James Langton which also seemed odd. He seemed to bounce in, all in charge, and then bounce out all flustered by the higher up-upper echelons having it in for him. And then there was something about his marriage, and his past relationship with Travis, and then... to be honest I lost interest. Not quite before Travis heads off to the US, gets into another relationship, solves the local problems and steams back to the UK all ready to pick up the Reynolds case and solve it in one big bound....
And therein lies the biggest problem with this book, it starts out as slow as treacle, with only the characters to engage interest. And they don't. The plot then heads off into somewhere-else land and when everything's righted there, our hero returns to the UK to save that day as well. Which left me wondering even more what on earth Senior FBI Agent Jessie Dewar was there for.
Reading, as I do, rather a lot of crime fiction in a year, it's normally possible to find something positive. In the earlier books, even in the last one I finished, Travis was a good character who could lift a book's ranking, even one that has a flawed plot, or a lot of filler, or some daft red herrings. In WRONGFUL DEATH, however, she's not strong enough for that much heavy lifting.
Six months after the body of Josh Reynolds, a London nightclub owner, was found and determined by police and coroner to be a suicide, DCS James Langton tasks DCI Anna Travis to review the case. Reynolds died from a single gunshot wound to the head, the gun held in his right hand. But details are emerging that suggest someone else may have fired the gun... As soon as she wraps up the case, Langton tells Anna, she can join him at the FBI Academy in Virginia for training.