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Book 162: Wrongful Death by Lynda la Plante

Book 162: Wrongful Death (Anna Travis #9).
Author: Lynda la Plante, 2013.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Police Procedural.
Other Details: Hardback. 512 pages.

Six months ago night club owner Josh Reynolds had been found dead with a single gunshot to his head. The subsequent police investigation ruled his death a suicide and the case closed. However, a young man awaiting trial for armed robbery claims that Reynolds had been murdered and that he has information he is willing to share. In response to this situation DCS James Langton tasks DCI Anna Travis to review the case. He then informs Anna that he is to be seconded for a year to the F.B.I. Academy in Quantico, Virginia and that he has also arranged for her to have a place on a prestigious three month training course at Quantico. It's a terrific opportunity for Anna and she is keen to go.

Anna is concerned that the Reynold's case may not be wrapped up before she leaves but Langton tells her that he has arranged for F.B.I. Agent Jessie Dewar, a crime scene expert, to join her team for work experience and that in Anna's absence DI Paul Barolli can lead the team. However, almost from the moment of her arrival Dewar's abrasive attitude is ruffling feathers including Anna's. Then what appeared to be a simple case becomes a political minefield and the competence of the original investigative team is brought into question. With time running out before Anna's trip to America she has to trust that Dewar will play nicely with the others and finish the job.

I have enjoyed all of the Anna Travis' series; appreciating their intelligent, intricate plots, the compelling characters and la Plante's pacing that gives her readers the sense that they are following a realistic investigation. I always clear my schedule on the publication of a new Anna Travis tale as I know I'll be totally absorbed into Anna's world for the duration. In this case I was grateful to Simon & Schuster for sending me an advance copy for review. I was fairly confident, based on my experience of the earlier books in the series, that this would prove a highly satisfying read and I was quickly proved right.

Wrongful Death was not only another winner in an exceptional series but had extra impact when its plot took a direction that was not only unexpected but quite shocking. It was also good to see Langton and Travis outside of their normal environments and their experiences in the USA made for an interesting departure.

With respect to Jessie Dewar I found her very prickly and initially did not like her at all, especially when she was swaggering around sharply correcting people who had addressed her as 'Agent' by pointing out that her title was Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) or aggressively leaping into interviews. However, by the novel's end I had more respect for her and a better understanding of her personality. In many ways she is another driven lone wolf character not all that different to Anna and Langton. I felt that la Plante did quite a masterful job with the character of Dewar and also contrasting the policies of the F.B.I. to those of the Met. Was an interesting culture clash both for Dewar in London and Langton and Travis in the USA. I hope this isn't the last we see of SSA Jessie Dewar.
Tags: british, crime fiction, police drama
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