Review: Wrongful Death by Lynda La Plante

wrongful deathVerdict:
Title: Wrongful Death
Author: Lynda La Plante
Publish Date: 12 September 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 512
Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery
Source: Finished copy

The ninth novel in the Anna Travis series sees our DCI heroine investigate the formally closed case of club owner Josh Reynolds, whose death was ruled out as a suicide six months previous. A review of the case is initiated when former colleague of the deceased, now awaiting trial, claims that he holds information indicating that Reynolds was murdered. The peaceful office is railed off the status quo when DCS James Langton includes FBI Agent Jessie Dewar on the case for work experience.

What begins as a closed suicide unravels into a deceitful mess of secrets locked within a dysfunctional family, illustrating the extent which some people will go to protect themselves.

I have never read an Anna Travis novel before, or any material from highly acclaimed author Lynda La Plante to be more precise, and so I was overwhelmed by how much detail and realism was consumed within this book. I anticipated Wrongful Death to be a high action thriller; instead it was a slow burning mysterious drama which was equally as enjoyable. The novel was not subjectively about the investigation itself as it gave a deepful insight into how police operations functioned and the characters, despite some being less sympathetic than others, were well structured.

One of the most successful elements of crime fiction is that you can pick up any book, even if it is the fifth in a series, and have no issues on understanding what has happened in the storyline. Most cases are closed with the end of each book so we are able to start afresh with the next in the series and we acquire a general indication of character personalities through backgrounds morphed into pages, no doubt for those who are entering the series in the middle. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the past eight Anna Travis novels as although previous plotlines were referred to, it didn’t damage my reading. The only short continuing case which was mentioned was Langton determined to bring down his nemesis, Fitzpatrick.

What was extremely unique about this novel was that Plante challenged the structure of the regular plot. This allowed for the novel to flow similarly to real life. As well as three investigations taking place: the primarily presumed suicide, the hunt for a missing girl and the drug lord Fitzpatrick case, we also had the tension between Travis and Dewer and a blossoming love life for our protagonist. Most novels tend to focus on the one thing, however, Plante created a perfect balance between the investigations and Anna’s personal life so we were invested both in the characters and the crime mysteries.

At the beginning of the book it was made clear that Travis would be participating in a ten week FBI training course in Quantico, Virginia. Yet, when you are used to the formulaic rules of novel conventions you knew that Travis would never attend the course because the Josh Reynolds case would swallow up her existence and she would believe it to be her duty to see it through until the end, sacrificing a wonderful opportunity. My judgement was totally wrong as Travis does end up jetting off to the states. It was refreshing to see an author having the guts to challenge conventions and this made her fantasy world feel all the more real.

At 512 pages, the length of Wrongful Death was quite draining. Although detail is always important in transporting us into another world, some of the storylines could have been shortened dramatically as they were rather tiresome.

Despite most of the characters being fleshed out and carrying their own personal traits Dewar was one who I felt uneasy towards. Right from the beginning we knew Dewar was going to cause friction on the scene and like most people I was not fond of her, although she was a strong believable individual. However, when Anna returns from the FBI training it was as though Dewar became a 2-D character. Since the novel is from Anna’s perspective it means all the characters revolve around her, however, I was disappointed when we returned to Dewar after approximately 150 pages as she seemed lost within the story. Even though she had undergone a character arc, her unique flare compared to the first sequence had disintegrated. Her importance in the novel simmered away and that was a shame as she held potential.

Wrongful Death is an interesting murder mystery to read, told with a simple and clever writing style from the mind of by Lynda La Plante. It is very easy to straightaway connect with Anna Travis and try to solve the mystery in your own head so I hope to read more material from Plante in the near future.

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th waveVerdict:
Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Publish Date: 5 May 2013
Publisher: Puffin
Pages: 480
Genre: YA, sci-fi, dystopia
Source: Spinebreakers (Penguin), finished copy

An apocalyptic thriller that genuinely makes you unable to put down the book. At first I was quite sceptic of The 5th Wave as I felt the writing style was pretty overdramatic (obviously it’s not going to be a bag of laughs when you think you are the last living person on the planet). But, what I mean to say is that what was annoying was how Zombie’s narrative voice primarily sounded the same as Cassie’s. That was pretty off-putting. Although eventually Rick Yancey found his voice for each individual narrative and The 5th Wave transformed into a very clever approach to a genre already established by many. Continue reading

Review: Nowhere by Jon Robinson

Nowhere imageVerdict:
Title: Nowhere
Author: Jon Robinson
Publish Date: 4 July 2013
Publisher: Puffin
Pages: 256
Genre: drama, classic
Number in Series: #1
Source: Spinebreakers (Penguin), finished copy

One of the most anticipated movie releases of 2013 was The Great Gatsby. Being the imagination idealist that I am, I was determined to read the book before I watched the Leo DiCaprio starring adaptation on the big screen. I’m glad I stuck to my guns. Why? Because I am hoping that the movie will be better than the book. Continue reading

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful CreaturesVerdict:
Title: Beautiful Creatures
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Publish Date: 3 January 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 576
Genre: YA, fantasy, paranormal, romance
Series Number: Caster Chronicles #1
Source: Spinebreakers (Penguin), finished copy

I had known of Beautiful Creatures for a long time before I read the book. Although, when I say I had known about the book, all I really mean is that I recognised the title and the book’s cover design. The novel had never interested me because by ‘creatures’ I thought they literally meant animals and so I had never gathered any motivation to read it. However, hearing that it was being adapted for the screen and learning a general sense of the plot, I must admit that my interest towards Beautiful Creatures did perk up a bit. Continue reading

Review: One By One by Chris Carter

Chris Carter One By OneVerdict:
Title: One By One
Author: Chris Carter
Publish Date: 15 August 2013
Publisher Simon & Schuster UK
Pages 511
Genre: crime, thriller
Series Number: 5
Source: Simon & Schuster UK ARC

What would you do if a new craze hit the net letting you decide how to kill a ‘guilty’ individual? Would you believe it was all just a movie hoax? Would you vote?

These were some of the intriguing questions stirred within Chris Carter’s fifth instalment in the Robert Hunter series, One By One.

From the outset, what captivated me to this novel was the plot. A new serial killer is on the loose who is utilising the web to broadcast in real time some of the most violent ways in which we can die. Like in reality TV shows, the public are then given the opportunity to vote on two different death methods. It’s quite psychological disturbing that this idea of bring reality TV to the extremes and seeing how the public would react if this would happen in real life made me want to read this book.

Carter himself is a professional in this trade, he was previously part of a Criminal Psychology team, so this depth of why the killer was doing these acts and how the public were reacting was realistically reflected through our central character, Hunter.

Straight away Hunter, who is from the LAPD Robbery Homicide Division, is the target of the killer’s attention. The anonymous caller contacts the department directly to speak with him, forcing the Detective to watch the murder as well as deciding how the victim will reach his death. It was no wonder that I then went on to read this novel in two sittings. It is an extreme clique, but the book was unputdownable due to a thrilling plot where each of the short chapters ends with a cliff hanger.

The murders themselves were very gruesome and detailed. They were very reminiscent of gory horror movies, like the Saw saga, but instead of visualising them on the screen; you had to imagine the deaths in your head. Although there was more substance to just these gory deaths as you found yourself trying to work out how the victims and the killer were related, especially when the murderer would toy with the Detectives by leaving them clues.

Chapter Seventy-Five illustrated one of the broadcasts from a teenager’s perspective. Despite the two boys actions being disgusting and carless – making you surprisingly angry towards these fictional characters – you can imagine how their actions of voting on the death method and watching it online would transpire in the real world. If it’s not someone we know and love, society would probably discard a unique life for entertainment.

We would gain more of an insight into the personal lives of some characters through their own perspectives, like Hunter’s cop partner, Carlos Garcia. This may be boring if repeated in previous novels, however fleshing out the characters made them seem more real and it was a good break from the thrilling main plot line.

We also witnessed a closing paedophilia case from Michelle Kelly, head of the FBI Cybercrime Division. Despite not linking up to the main plot itself, this was a good excuse to show a frequent crime that does take place via the internet.

It wasn’t until half way through One By One that I realised the book was a part of a saga. So if you have never read a Robert Hunter book in the past, don’t fear that you can’t read this book now in case it gives the game away in a previous novel. There was only one reference I could make out about The Crucifix Killer, so I believe you can probably read them in any order you wish.

One By One was a fun read which held a psychological depth. The writing style was simple and this was all that was needed to reflect everything necessary in the book.