Clean Cut: An Anna Travis Mystery Paperback – Sep 30 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
In La Plante's solid third police procedural to feature London Det. Insp. Anna Travis (after 2007's The Red Dahlia), Anna's lover and superior, Det. Chief Insp. Jimmy Langton, is knifed while investigating the murder of a young prostitute. As Anna helps him recuperate, Jimmy becomes obsessed with catching his assailant, rumored to be Clinton Camorra, a notorious drug trafficker and voodoo practitioner. Anna discovers another link to Camorra's gang of illegal immigrants in one of her own murder cases, the apparently motiveless killing of a woman by Arthur George Murphy, who also practices voodoo. After Arthur's sister and niece are murdered and another niece and nephew disappear, Anna suspects that not only is Camorra behind the crimes but that she may be the next target. Though her stance on illegal immigration is sometimes too strident for the story to support, La Plante has created another damaged heroine almost as appealing as her inimitable Jane Tennison. (Oct.)
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About the Author
Lynda La Plante's fourteen novels, including the Prime Suspect series, have all been international bestsellers. She is an honorary fellow of the British Film Institute and a member of the UK Crime Writers Awards Hall of Fame. She was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in 2008. She runs her own television production company and lives in London and Easthampton, New York. Visit her website at laplantebooks.com.See all Product Description
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The author's latest book, CLEAN CUT, is the third in her Anna Travis series. RED DAHLIA and ABOVE SUSPICION. I hadn't read either of the previous books, but I had no problem diving into this one regarding backstory. La Plante delivers well-developed characters with a tremendous amount of internal conflict. What I needed to know about the two primary characters, Anna and her lover Detective Chief Inspector Jimmy Langdon, was quickly supplied, and I was immersed into the new problems that faced them as a couple and as police officers.
After a rather slow-paced launch at the start of the book, though deep in character complications, Anna starts questioning her relationship with Langdon. She's gotten irritated at the way she seems to have turned from lover to caretaker for him, all without appreciation. Then she gets the phone call that turns her life inside out: Langdon was attacked at his latest crime scene. She's told that even if he lives, Langdon will probably never walk again.
The book centers at the outset on the test of the two wills of Anna and Langdon. She wants to help, but he's so cynical and bitter that she can barely stand to be around him. Not only that, but she finds out that Langdon is going behind her back to get information about the man that attacked him. Anna fears that Langdon is engaging in a vendetta that will land him in trouble with the law. If the wheelchair doesn't get Jimmy Langdon, it looks like prison will.
I liked the characters a lot because they have obvious history and "feel" real. I hated the way Langdon treats Anna, but I totally understood where Langdon's mind is while in the hospital. People in situations like Langdon's strike out at those that love them because those people are the only ones willing to put up with them. This bitterness spreads throughout the novel as Anna's own murder case suddenly intersects with the investigation Langdon was pursuing when he was nearly killed.
La Plante uses the novel to point out how vulnerable countries are these days. Transient populations drift through major cities, like London in this novel, and bring a lot of danger and crime because that's a big part of what those people have to rely on for employment. The presentation of La Plante's views may be unsettling for some, but there's now denying the existence of the problem.
The book remains steady throughout, and its solid police work that breaks the cases wide open and connects them. There are no car chases, martial arts battles, or shootouts. The action La Plante relays in her pages is propelled by emotion and the reader's driving curiosity to find out what's going to happen next. The author has a great ear for dialogue, and her police characters talk the way those people do, in rough vernacular tinged with black humor.
CLEAN CUT is a good book, but it's made even better by the stress on Anna and Langdon's relationships. The final few pages will come as a shock to some. And it will leave readers wondering what's going to happen for Anna in the next book.
Jimmy's lover and subordinate Detective Inspector Anna Travis helps him physically recover, but mentally he wants revenge by bringing his attacker, alleged to be drug dealer Clinton Camorra, to jail. Meanwhile Anna investigates the slashing murder of librarian Irene Phelps; sex offender Arthur George Murphy confesses. When his sister Gail Sickert and his infant niece are murdered and two other relatives vanish, Anna thinks voodoo practitioner Camorra is the culprit in all the crimes.
With Jane Tennison taking a needed breather, Lynda La Plante turns to her other tough yet vulnerable heroine (see THE RED DAHLIA and ABOVE SUSPICION). Anna Travis is a terrific lead character who holds the extremely complex police procedural story line together. She accomplishes this remarkable feat in spite of several major fascinating subplots and the strong stance on illegal immigration that runs throughout. Fans will appreciate Ms. La Plante's superb English police procedural.
Theirs has been a symbiotic relationship: Earlier in his career, "Langston was promoted as a result of a report made by Jack Travis [Anna's policeman father]. In part, that was the reason why Langton had brought Anna onto his team for her first murder case. It was also the reason he had saved her career in the Red Dahlia investigation."
Anna joins a new murder team in Brixton investigating the death of a thirty-nine-year-old librarian whose body has been found by her twelve-year-old daughter. It is a difficult adjustment: "She found it all very depressing: so different from working alongside Langton, whose energy and tireless pressure on everyone around him always paid dividends. There had been numerous other cases she had been involved in before and after Langton; none of the SIOs ever matched him, or even came close." At the end of that case and when, against all odds, Langton returns to duty, he asks for her to join his new team.
The new case in puzzling manner seems to be related to the one Langton was working on when he was attacked: the murder of a teenage prostitute. There are several other murders, involving voodoo, pedophilia, and dismemberment including decapitation, and every line of inquiry turns into a dead end. There is also a lot of information about the problem of ever-increasing immigration, legal and otherwise, in England, as well as its troubled justice system, which at times I found to be overdone. Also constantly in the background is the question of how, or even if, the relationship between Travis and Langton will evolve.
I wanted to like this book much more than I did. I've long been a fan of this author's wonderful "Prime Suspect" series with Helen Mirren on PBS. I'd not read the previous Anna Travis mysteries, "Above Suspicion" and "The Red Dahlia," and the ending hints at another to follow. But I found the pace of this book to be much too slow, with the author constantly reviewing the plot to date, perhaps to lessen in the mind of the reader the complexity of the characters and the various unspeakable acts committed by them. Clarity does not always ensue. But, as always, others' mileage may vary.
Surprising everyone but himself, Langton comes roaring back to duty with a vengance intent on finding those who were involved in his near-death. Anna is surprised when he asks her to join his case.
In creating Anna, author Lynda La Plante plays the damaged heroine card with great success. With all her flaws, it is not difficult to understand and empathize with the myriad situations Anna finds herself involved, many times due to her own actions and reactions to what is happening around her.
The storyline is strong and the pacing steady. Along the way, there are plenty of surprises including a shocking ending that no one will see coming. La Plante is superb in laying out a quite gruesome plot and following the course of the investigation.
Fans will look forward to the next installment for further updates in the Travis/Langton relationship. Thankfully, La Plante continues to provide new stories in this marvelous series.
Clean Cut: An Anna Travis Mystery (Anna Travis Mysteries)