Unholy Murder is the seventh in the (young) Jane Tennison series. It wasn’t until I started writing this review that I reflected on how Jane’s changed over the course of the books (ie. her career to date). I’m actually quite sure how LaPlante is pacing these but we’re in the 1980s now and obviously getting closer to the original Prime Suspect books and series time-wise.
This series is also a bit of a study in culture and society as – unlike the earliest books – Jane seems to be readily accepted as a police officer now. Definitely respected by her contemporaries and not viewed as an anomaly by the public.
by Lynda La Plante
Series: Tennison #7
Published by Zaffre
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
A coffin is dug up by builders in the grounds of an historic convent - inside is the body of a young nun. In a city as old as London, the discovery is hardly surprising. But when scratch marks are found on the inside of the coffin lid, Detective Jane Tennison believes she has unearthed a mystery far darker than any she's investigated before.
However, not everyone agrees. Tennison's superiors dismiss it as an historic cold case, and the Church seems desperate to conceal the facts from the investigation. It's clear that someone is hiding the truth, and perhaps even the killer. Tennison must pray she can find both - before they are buried forever . . .
In notes written for readers at the end of this novel LaPlante talks about wanting to provide Jane with a ‘stumper’. The young Detective Sergeant is proud of her solve rate and dogged to the point of obsession when it comes to investigating crime and seeking justice. Of course the problem with old (cold) cases is that players are no longer around and / or it’s difficult to learn the truth from those who are.
There’s a smidge of romance for Jane here, which I enjoyed, and I very much liked that on a couple of occasions she realises she’s carrying a very large chip on her shoulder and needs to be less guarded and suspicious of her colleagues. It felt a little like a turning point for Jane, from a rebellious hot-head to a more mature and ambitious career copper. She’s also called on the mentor another police officer here and I liked the dynamic and how that role reflected her changing mindset.
LaPlante includes some interesting discourse on the Catholic Church here. Almost extremism on both sides. I was reminded this is set in the UK in the 1980s and the so-called ‘troubles’ in Ireland still on England’s doorstep, but some of the issues referenced here continue to make headlines today.
I’m really enjoying this series and this book challenges Jane with something a bit different – it’s less of a case to be solved and more of a mystery to be uncovered.
Unholy Murder by Lynda LaPlante was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and is currently available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.