Prime Suspect‘s Lynda LaPlante is back with a new Anna Travis novel.

Blood Line follows Anna’s new case as a DCI, heavily watched over with increasing annoyance to her by her mentor and former lover, Superintendent James Langton.

Her first case was a slam dunk that she made her way through numbly, dealing with the aftermath of the death of her fiance`. The pacing here is different from the usual murder novel, as the case starts out as something entirely different and meanders its way into a murder investigation, when a court clerk whose son has disappeared asks Anna to look into the case. Langton concurs, trying to give Anna time to grieve before getting her feet under her in a real murder case.

Alan Rawlins is a good-looking chap, engaged to be married to salon owner Tina Brooks. A shy gentleman, Alan’s sudden disappearance has his father and fiancee` stumped.

Anna’s initial interviews reveal nothing specific. At first glance, Alan is a paragon of virtue, with savings in the bank and a steady job. Tina arrived home from her salon one day after he’d come home early from work with a migraine to find Alan gone; it is his father who insisted a Missing Person’s report be filed when there’s no word from Alan after two weeks.

Meeting Tina for the first interview leaves Anna with a gut feeling something is wrong. The flat is too neat, compulsively so. And despite supposedly in the midst of shopping for a wedding dress and ordering invitations, Tina shows little emotion when discussing her missing partner, stating she feels he’s gone off with another woman. At first Anna feels it’s possible Alan has taken off to escape marriage to Tina and the pressures of his mother’s dementia, especially when a potential second source of income is identified.

Then a better search of the apartment Alan and Tina shared turns up evidence of a blood pool behind the head of the bed, and more Luminol work shows a massive cleanup in the bathtub as the full-scale murder investigation swings into action.

Despite the evidence, the question of the identity of the victim becomes an issue. Someone was murdered in that flat, but just who it was becomes more and more difficult to establish in a series of twists that have Anna, under pressure to solve the case, becoming almost obsessed with all the trails she finds. And over it all, Langton is watching her like a hawk.
The book follows the extensive details and delays of real police work, from waiting for forensic reports to traveling to interview witnesses, always with the budget in mind. Anna also deals with the personalities of her hastily-thrown together team.

LaPlante’s lack of contractions may take some readers aback as it gives her dialogue a more formal feel; but it also serves to keep the British tone in the reader’s ear. This edition comes through the new line of mysteries from HarperCollins, Bourbon Street books.

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