Picks and Pans Review: Cold Blood
British mystery writer Lynda La Plante has been known to American audiences primarily as the creator of Inspector Jane Tennison, the complex heroine of the PBS program Prime Suspect. Like that show, Cold Blood features a hard-edged investigator who navigates her cases more adeptly than her life, but this time the heroine is distinctly American. The ensuing drama is so compelling that La Plante risks having her TV credentials eclipsed by her distinction as a crime novelist.
The story opens 11 months after the disappearance of the pampered teenage daughter of a faded and drug-addicted movie star. Absent any clues or ransom note, the cops have given up. Enter Lorraine Page, the latest in a long line of private eyes hired by parents desperate to find their daughter, dead or alive. Page, an ex-LAPD lieutenant who years earlier lost her family and job in a haze of alcohol, has sobered up and is looking to redeem not only the $1 million reward but her reputation and floundering private agency. The case she takes on has her shuttling between L.A. and the New Orleans criminal underworld.
La Plante does make a few soap-opera-ish missteps in her plotting choices about three-quarters of the way through this 416-page tale. But by then her characters have become so engaging—and the tension so gripping—that readers will be too hooked to turn back. (Random House, $23)