One of my top six books last year was Tennison by Lynda LaPlante. As a fan of the (ahem) older Jane Tennison via LaPlante’s Prime Suspect series I loved that she’d leapt back in time, allowing us to meet a young Jane and giving us the opportunity to understand how the popular character of the 1990s became so resilient… not to mention a bit of a hard-arse.
Happily LaPlante is now offering up another episode in the life of young Jane – with her passion for justice and occasional disdain for authority – as she continues to doggedly pursue the baddies.
by Lynda La Plante
Series: Tennison #2
Published by Simon & Schuster
on November 1st 2016
Source: Simon & Schuster
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 1471140547, 9781471140556, 9781471140549
Jane Tennison, a young, inexperienced WPC, learns the hard way never to take anyone, or anything, at face value, whether in her dealings with her police colleagues or when confronted by seemingly innocent suspects.
Hidden Killers sees Jane acting as a ‘decoy’ prostitute, with the hope of capturing a suspect wanted for numerous sexual assaults. The attacker is drawn in and put under arrest.
Commended for bravery in the case, Jane is given CID status and moves from Hackney to Bow Street Station as Detective her first call-out is to a non-suspicious death. The victim is a young mother, drowned tragically in her bath, leaving a bereft and doting husband and a young child.
The two storylines interweave as Jane begins to doubt the evidence against her assailant in East London, and becomes certain that the young woman in the bath did not drown in tragic circumstances.
Two entirely different cases but one common thread - the lingering doubt in Jane’s mind around the evidence, and around her colleagues…
Obviously LaPlante knows Jane well and (presumably) had already contemplated her life and work history when she wrote the original Prime Suspect series. It’s a treat though for we readers to discover how she became the hard-nosed DCI and DS we eventually meet.
Also interesting (as I said in my review of Tennison) is the opportunity to reflect on the role of women in the police service – and society in general – in the early 1970s. And Jane’s still pushing boundaries and breaking through barriers in this outing.
LaPlante again does a great job of putting us in the timeframe, without having to add lots of bells and whistles in terms of scene-setting. This time around there are no constant references to music of the 70s or clothing or similar. Instead we’re just ‘there’.
Again we’re offered two cases. I struggled with this a little in Tennison, but it works well here; as the two investigations are paced very differently. The serial rapist case is essentially closed fairly early in the book, but Jane’s tying together loose ends in her own time. And then there’s the case her colleagues are eager to label as unsuspicious… a decision Jane disagrees with and is determined to prove.
But it’s the character of Jane that makes this novel a wonderful read She’s tenacious and details-oriented. And her ethics mean she doesn’t cut corners and won’t be satisfied with anything less than the truth… and justice. We slowly see however, that she’s learning to play the game.
There’s less conflict with her family this time around. Jane’s becoming more independent and – unable to share her work life with them – finds it harder to meld into their world.
And while her colleagues see her as a lone wolf and she’s reprimanded for pursuing leads on her own, she occasionally gains some grudging respect from those around her; and seems increasingly conscious of the need to make an effort to fit in.
I loved spending time with Jane again and only regret another year or so may pass until she returns to the page!
Hidden Killers by Lynda LaPlante will be published in Australia by Simon & Schuster on 1 November 2016.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers for review purposes.