Linda La Plante - Shastrix Books

Linda La Plante

Recently reviewed

Backlash

Backlash

19th August 2016

Somehow this is the eighth Anna Travis novel and yet it feels like much less has happened. Anna's brought in to help out on a cold case with ties to a recent murder, and deal with some emotional baggage.

The plot is strong, with some interesting twists and a feeling of uncertainty throughout, which leaves the reader rooting for the character right to the end. There was a point where I was wondering what was happening as the book felt like there want enough to fill the rest of the pages, and it felt like the en t part was almost tacked on to bulk up the length, but it was still good stuff.

Fortunately the author has dropped some of the more ridiculous soapy plots that have appeared on some of the earlier novels, and though there is still character development it feels more mature and realistic, which actually helped make for a more relatable main character.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this book and it has really helped me get back into reading after a bit of a drought recently. I even found myself pulling it or of my bag to read in the evening as well as on the train, which only seems to happen now with truly addictive reading.

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Blood Line

Blood Line

3rd February 2016

Anna Travis returns for her seventh outing, but her first since promotion to Detective Chief Inspector - and it's her first chance to lead her own investigation and prove to her superiors that she's really up to it. At first it seems like just a straightforward missing persons case that Anna looks into as a favour, but gradually more and more things don't add up.

Like the previous books in the series, the mystery is good, with a surprisingly small set of suspects and yet still so much going on that the reader really has no idea what's going to come out at the end. However, this also does have the slight effect of being frustrating for the reader as it seems as if even the author is just going with the flow and hadn't planned where the story is going to go.

I also continue to find the ongoing storyline of Travis' personal life to be unrealistic and irritating. The emotions seem too simple, and are portrayed through the characters introspection rather than being something that can be inferred from events, actions and speech. I think it seems too much like a token gesture at fleshing out the character rather than making her feel realistic.

Finally the dialogue - the characters in this novel do not talk like humans. The speech sounds like something a computer might construct (Data from Star Trek maybe),and is devoid of natural humanizing patterns such as contractions. It means that the characters are left without distinctive voices and the reader is dropped out of the narrative when they sound forced.

Actually there's one more thing. Without spoiling too much, this book involves some homosexual characters, and this came across as a bit too much of a cliche unfortunately. Clearly it's only natural that some gay characters will appear in any fictional world, but the sudden leap from none to many seemed forced in this book and almost as if it was considered that there had to be a sympathetic gay character to balance out each one tasty featured a an antagonist. And on top of that featured the classic grumpy old homophobic policeman who can't help dropping stupid comments, as featured in many crime novels.

Right, rant over. Overall it's a good, if overly complicated story, and I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next.

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Blind Fury

Blind Fury

21st August 2015

I'm surprised to find myself at the end of the sixth Anna Travis book - it doesn't seem like she's had that many adventures, and I can't decide whether that's a good reflection on the series or not.

When a dead body is found beside a motorway, Travis is drafted into the team investigating and proceeds to dig up more and more crimes.

The character really shows some growth in this story - having reached a new level of confidence and developed in her approach to her career. Unfortunately some of the soap opera elements of this story - and this time it really is soapish - damage that again as she is forced by the author into making surprise out-of-character decisions that really jarred and didn't feel to me like they really added to the story.

Similarly, there's one decision that the author made that gives something significant away about the plot far too early, and I felt that this ruined part of the story because it could be seen coming much earlier than felt appropriate.

Ultimately mixed feelings about this one. The problem was good and the investigation sound and interesting, but the character's personal life (often one of the elements that helps make a crime book more than just a procedural) lets it down. I've still bought the next two books though and am interested to see where Travis gets taken next.

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Buy book: UK
Silent Scream

Silent Scream

5th April 2015

The fifth Anna Travis book sees the character become part of a new team investigating the death of a young film star. It's nice to see the progression of the main character in both her career and personal life, though there are many elements that continue to be a part of the series following on from earlier books, and I wondered whether much of it would make as much sense without reading the earlier novels.

The mystery is good, with a range of suspects to dig into, and more information is revealed at every step, keeping the plot from stalling. Like other books in the series though, some of the more personal and career aspects of Travis' life feel slightly unbelievable and presented in an over the top manner. In places I couldn't keep my disbelief suspended as she's surrounded by a cast who are so unlikeable that Travis shines through like an angel - perhaps this is only because we're presented the story from her point of view.

Overall I enjoyed the story and am glad there's a good few left in the series to continue, though I hope there are some changes to come otherwise some elements are going to become overly repetitive.

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Buy book: UK
Deadly Intent

Deadly Intent

10th August 2014

Anna Travis returns for a fourth adventure, in which a surprisingly high body count emerges following a shooting at a drug squat. The case is incredibly complex, and after so many different theories that the characters go over throughout the novel I’m left baffled about what actually happened, and indeed who did it.

The secondary aspect of the story though, that of Anna's personal life, is presented much better in this novel than the previous entries in the series, and feels like a fully natural part of the plot rather than dominating and seeming in the way of the actual detective work.

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Buy book: UK
Clean Cut

Clean Cut

26th February 2014

The third Anna Travis book has an interesting structure, with the main central crime story bookended by two soap opera sections - more character-driven emotional parts of the story. The plot itself is quite complex and ties together a number of threads in a way that seems rather implausible.

The soapy parts of the story are actually interesting, and Travis certainly gets a lot more character action than your typical alcoholic divorcee detective (which she isn't). She has a surprisingly authentic relationship and manages to balance it well with her career in a way that makes her a perfectly believable character.

The main plot is complicated, and at times I found myself getting confused by the wide array of characters and trying to understand the relationships between them. I've recently begun to wonder whether there's worth in mapping out the characters and relationships in books I read so that I don't get lost, and this is certainly one that might have benefited. To an extent I think this confusion is a plot device to make the reader sympathise more with the central character.

I did enjoy reading this book, although I felt it was a little long and things were dragged out more than was necessary. The balance of personal life and career was good, but I felt they could have been mixed together a little more. The next book is on my shelf and waiting.

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Buy book: UK
The Red Dahlia

The Red Dahlia

31st October 2013

The second appearance of detective Anna Travis is much more polished than the first. When a mutilated body is found in a situation resembling an unsolved case from the 1930s, Travis is reunited with her old boss to track down the murderer.

The character of Anna Travis feels much more solid in this book, more consistent and showing a fair amount of development from where we meet her at the beginning. The rest of the cast are still only lightly covered, but are more filled out than in the first book and give the resemblance of depth behind that's waiting for later books to peek through.

The plot is a little too similar to that of the first book, although actually I thought it was less graphic in the telling despite the crime being worse - this felt an improvement, that the author didn't feel the need to shock the reader to get across a feeling of revulsion at what was happening. It's much more of a procedural story rather than a whodunnit, but it works as a story until the end, where the final few chapters became predictable.

The writing remained a little rough, feeling like it could use some more polish - the dialogue in particular didn't feel natural, seeming to avoid contractions, which kept breaking me out of the narrative. Overall though a story I enjoyed reading, and I'm glad there are plenty more in the series to look forward to.

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Buy book: UK

Other reviewed books

Above Suspicion

Unreviewed books

Wrongful Death

Top books

  1. Backlash
  2. Blind Fury
  3. Silent Scream
  4. Blood Line
  5. Above Suspicion
  6. The Red Dahlia
  7. Clean Cut