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by Lynda La Plante
Touchstone, December 2005
400 pages
ISBN: 074327685X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The faces of six dead women, slain between 12 and two years before, stare out at DCI Langton who has been moved to take over the squad investigating these crimes. All the women were prostitutes of a certain age, but there seems to be no other connection. All had been found several months after their murders, but many similarities in the appearance of the bodies make the squad certain that all the women were killed by the same man.

Langton needs an addition to his team because one of his men has been taken to hospital. He chooses newly-minted Detective Sergeant Anna Travis, who is the daughter of his mentor, the late Detective Chief Superintendent Jack Travis.

Anna gets a quick introduction to her new job on the murder squad the next morning, when they go to the scene of another killing. This time the victim is a 17-year-old schoolgirl, which doesn't fit the profile of 40ish prostitutes who were the first six victims. However, she was bound and strangled in the same way as the other women. The main difference is that she was discovered much more quickly.

The book is very much Anna's story. Perhaps she is a young Jane Tennison. The amount of graphic detail in the beginning of the book makes me think that perhaps this was written with a television series in mind from the outset. That said, however, the book is gripping and fast reading.

If Langton allows Travis to work too much on her own, perhaps it is because he is remembering the way her father trained him. The minor characters are more sketchy, except where they interact with Anna. On the whole, ABOVE SUSPICION may be the first in a series and it is a very enjoyable work.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, January 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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