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.
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.
In my review of the previous book in the (young) Jane Tennison series (The Dirty Dozen) I commented that I thought Jane was finally becoming more accepted by her male colleagues. Of course in that book she’d been appointed to the Flying Squad (the Sweeney) and very excited about it until she learned she was part of an experiment and—of course—things didn’t go as planned.
When Blunt Force opens she’s still a Detective Sergeant but posted to a small station and bored shitless. She’s there with colleague Spencer who’s also in the bad books and been sidelined. On a positive note… though she still seems to be the one fetching lunch and making tea and coffee, she and her abilities as a copper seem to be respected by her new colleagues.
It wasn’t until after I read this book (that) it occurred to me we can’t be that far from the Jane Tennison we eventually meet in the Prime Suspect series. Though I guess a decade is a lifetime in Jane’s world.
In the last book in this series Murder Mile, I commented that there seemed to be less sexist crap (misogynist bullshit I think I said) than in previous novels, but sadly her entry into the all-male Flying Squad, sees Jane yet again struggling with prejudice despite ‘integration’ seven years earlier.
I’ve been enjoying Lynda La Plante’s series featuring the young Jane Tennison. I loved the original English Prime Suspect TV series also but the somewhat sexist environment of the 1990s is nothing compared to the police service in the 1970s.
My main complaint regarding both earlier books in this series (Tennison & Good Friday) was that they featured two separate crimes – ultimately merging in some way and I felt they really didn’t need the complexity and we readers didn’t need the distraction.
I like to think my exacting opinions and informed literary reflections (*ahem*) made it through to La Plante because this book is centred around ONE CRIME. (And I loved it!)
Lynda La Plante’s Tennison was one of my favourite books when released in 2015. It’s basically the backstory of Jane Tennison – the ‘take no shit’ senior detective / chief inspector whatzit from her popular Prime Suspect books and the (equally popular) TV series based on those books (starring Helen Mirren).
Set in the early 1970s, Tennison, Hidden Killers, and now Good Friday, focus around the early years of Jane… after she first joins the police force. Obviously the sexist attitudes and prejudice she experiences in the Prime Suspect series (kicking off in the early 1990s) is nothing compared to the attitudes of many two decades earlier… but the resilient and resourceful young Jane doesn’t let that stand in her way.
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.
At some point in the 1990s it felt like we were flooded with TV shows based on novels on my bookshelves. From Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford to Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse—we were offered an array of quality police procedurals. And of course… leading the pack was Prime Suspect, based on the book by Lynda La Plante.
I understand La Plante herself was involved in writing the teleplays for series one and three, but the fact the series stretched to seven seasons was really a testament to the awesomeness of Helen Mirren in the lead role.