Six months after the body of Josh Reynolds, a London nightclub owner, was found and determined by police and coroner to be a suicide, DCS James Langton tasks DCI Anna Travis to review the case. Reynolds died from a single gunshot wound to the head, the gun held in his right hand. But details are emerging that suggest someone else may have fired the gun… As soon as she wraps up the case, Langton tells Anna, she can join him at the FBI Academy in Virginia for training. Meanwhile, a Senior FBI Agent, Jessie Dewar, crime scene expert, is seconded to Anna’s team as part of her research and immediately the competence of the original investigation team is questioned.
So, we met the other night and discussed Wrongful Death by Lynda LaPlante. This is the first book club book I’ve posted as such on this blog, but I will be posting one each month. Read on to the bottom for next month’s book too!
Wrongful Death is, in my opinion, a mix of really enjoyable elements, and really irritating aspects that got on my nerves. I’ve never read any Lynda LaPlante before but know that she’s very popular and a lot of her work has been made into television programme, so I was looking forward to reading her new novel, Wrongful Death, when it was picked as this month’s book club choice. No one else had read any of her work apart from the lady who picked it.
Firstly, this is a fairly long novel, weighing in at 512 pages. Not exactly huge, but I felt it was a little slow at the beginning and at certain points in the story which maybe made it feel a bit longer, and everyone agreed that it took a while to get into – and a while to finish!
Lynda LaPlante obviously knows a lot about Police and Detective work, and as a Police Procedural novel it seemed very detailed and thorough. The problem was that at some points it felt a little too detailed when it came to added info, such as what Anna (the main Detective) was wearing or eating. I didn’t feel that we really needed to know the exact colour of her lipstick, or the starter, main course and drink she ordered in a restaurant. A good amount of detail is fine in my opinion, but there’s no need to waffle on for this long! Others may well disagree but most of the book clube members felt that it cut have been cut down by a good 100 pages without detriment to the story!
That being said, the attention to detail is excellent and you feel like you’ve really got to experience how police investigations get carried out (even though it’s a fictional story obviously) which we all really enjoyed reading about. I sort of guessed who ‘did it’ before the end but the conclusion was complicated enough that there was loads I hadn’t figured out too. The very end of the novel divided opinion among us; some quite liked it and others weren’t sure; it’s not a typical Crime novel ending, that’s all I’ll say here!
This was the first book I’d read in this series and my first impressions of characters might be a bit skewed. I found the main Detective Anna to be quite an annoying character, and I’m not sure if that’s how she’s meant to come across or if it’s just in this book; she grated on my nerves a bit throughout and I didn’t like the way she treated certain characters. Similarly Dewar was a pain in the a*se but to be fair she was obviously supposed to be!
There were also other characters that seemed just too clichéd. Whether they were Jamaican with dreadlocks and wearing a Rasta hat, or a gay Policeman flinging his arms around and repeatedly saying ‘Girlfriend’, there were some characters that really jarred with me simply because they were such a stereotype.
However, I did enjoy reading this novel. The plot was quite intricate and although we all read the middle section- where Anna and Langton go to America and Langton goes after Fitzpatrick- with some impatience as we wanted it to get back to the main plot, it still flowed quite well and kept us all reading on. I see from other reviews that people who have read previous novels in the series also had some issues with Wrongful Death, so maybe LaPlante has changed her writing style a bit- though Sandra who picked this novel said that she hadn’t noticed a significant change from the last novel to this one, so who knows?!
Overall, this is entertaining enough, but don’t expect it to be as succinct or fast-moving as some other reads in this genre, and remember to take some characters with a pinch of salt!
** Next month’s book: Wild: From Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed. **