Lynda La Plante’s latest in the Jane Tennison books takes us back to 1976, at the height of the IRA bombings in London.
Newly-badged Detective Constable Tennison has her sights set on far greater things than the CID division she’s in – she’s aiming for a spot in the coveted Flying Squad, which at this period in time is an entirely male-dominated environment. Her boss, however, doesn’t share her ambitions and transfers her elsewhere, specifically, the Dip Squad, an area of the force responsible for nabbing pickpockets.
One morning she’s heading off to court and finds herself unwittingly at the heart of a horrific bomb blast at Covent Garden tube station. The explosion leaves several dead and dozens more seriously wounded, and Tennison becomes a key witness after getting a look at the bomber.
Fans won’t be disappointed – this is La Plante on top form. A perfect depiction of the edginess of life in London in the 1970s, with such wonderful characterisations and descriptions at times you might think you were actually there. Added to this is a scarily accurate portrayal of the tremendous imbalance in the workplace of that time, with its rampant racism and sexism.
Despite her inexperience Tennison manages to hold her own in this environment, in fact this book is also really about her trying to make her mark in a man’s world. However there were times I wondered if some of her behaviours would be tolerated in today’s workplace.
It’s a long book and I did find it a little slow at times, especially at the beginning, but the tension is always there and there are enough red herrings to keep even the sternest critic on their toes. A good holiday read.
Ali Aitken – On The Town
Lynda La Plante
Published in Australia by Allen & Unwin