Book review: Dark Rooms by Lynda LaPlante

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 Permalink

Dark Rooms by Lynda LaPlante is the eighth in the series featuring ‘young’ Jane Tennison, although we’ve slowing been working our way from naïve constable to the kinda scary Detective Chief Inspector readers (and viewers) meet in Prime Suspect.

In fact here – even though she’s been prickly and standoffish in the past – I felt she’s more authoritarian. Still kind hearted, but perhaps more judgmental perhaps and contrary.

Book review: Dark Rooms by Lynda LaPlanteDark Rooms
by Lynda La Plante
Series: Tennison #8
Published by Zaffre
on 24/08/2022
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 1838779531
Pages: 400

Helena Lanark is an elderly woman, living in a luxurious care home. The heiress of an immense family fortune, she keeps the secret to the horror which once occurred within the Lanark family house.

Jane Tennison is leading a murder investigation into the recent brutal death of a young girl, her decomposed starved body discovered in an old air raid shelter in the garden of the Lanark's now derelict house. Initially the focus is on identifying the victim, until another body is found, hidden in the walls of the shelter.

As the investigation and search for answers intensifies, Jane travels to Australia. There she discovers the dark secret, that the Lanark family has kept hidden for decades. A secret, that not only threatens to bring down a family dynasty, but also places Jane Tennison in mortal danger . . .

I’ve mentioned in more recently reviews (such as in the previous installation Unholy Murder) that the rampant sexist attitudes Tennison faced as a young officer had eased, perhaps reflecting the changing times. Unfortunately it still exists and she’s quite openly sexually-harassed by her lecherous boss who is also (openly) having his way with their admin support officer.

I notice I commented on there being some romance in the last book though I can’t recall it… but it must have fizzled out because there’s more on offer for Jane here. Of course however we see Jane battling her commitment to her work and the ethos of what she does – upholding the law etc – and being more balanced or flexible in her private life. She kinda stumbles into a relationship and isn’t sure where it’s going but almost talks herself into being swept away. I liked electrician / electrical engineer / renovation guy Eddie but must admit warning bells are already ringing.

Jane solves the original case involving a dead young woman in record time and it involves a tragic turn of events. Jane’s given little (well, no) kudos for her work but having also uncovered a baby’s bones during the investigation she’s is keen to pursue it, particularly when she discovers the newborn was smothered. She’s reminded however of her previous case that involved decades-old bones with no recourse for anyone still alive. Here however she’s got her eye on the building’s previous owner, Helena Lanark, and starts looking into the family.

I enjoyed this, though probably as much because of Jane’s own insightful ponderings and methodical problem (crime) solving than the mysteries on offer. Again LaPlante doesn’t give readers a simple resolution but reminds us there are shades of grey lurking between the black and white, between the wrong and right. No one is really ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’ and justice comes in many forms.

Dark Rooms by Lynda LaPlante was published August in Australia by Allen & Unwin and is now available. (I note this is also listed as Killing Room elsewhere.)

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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