As a teenager, I read lots and lots of Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner but since then it is only recent ill-health which has led me back to the genre of crime fiction, murder mystery, detective thriller. I have enjoyed John Grisham and Martin Cruz Smith and been impressed by the lines of social criticism they develop.
Lynda La Plante is another story. It’s not so much a Novel as a Production – the author indicates as much in her Acknowledgements. And as a production it clunks.
The prose is wooden and the author misses no chance to state the obvious: the reader is never expected to use their imagination to complete the reading of a situation since the author spells it all out, as I have just done.
The characters are as they say Larger Than Life in a way that ensures that you don’t sympathise or identify but merely gawp. Occasionally, they are put into unintentionally comic scenes, notably when Anna and Blane get very excited over solving their Murder Mysteries on the sofa, barely leaving time for the Quick Fuck presented to the reader as (potentially) True Romance (Chapter Thirty). It’s hilarious but it’s not meant to be.
The Production occasionally slips up – one of the production team fell asleep – notably when a character (Marisha) who is still alive but soon won't be is presented as already dead (page 401).
As for social criticism, I see it a bit like this. People who read Celebrity gossip magazines know and believe that there is often a dark underside which they would love to hear about – and often do when tabloid newspapers dish the dirt. This book does the same, it gives us all the dirt on Lady Lynne and her family – strip clubs, fraud, murder, bigamy, incest – and then allows her and her daughters to walk free thanks to the incompetence and susceptibility to political pressure of the, er, Metropolitan Police.