Friday, April 9, 2010

'Clean Cut'- Review

Publisher: Pocket Books

Length:400 Pages

Opening Line: 'Anna was in a foul mood.'


Having previously seen some of Lynda La Plante's work, writing for crime programmes such as 'Prime Suspect', I thought that I would give this book a try. Added to the fact that this book came free with a magazine, what had I got to lose? I also haven't really read many books in the crime/thriller genre, so I thought I would mix things up a bit.

The plot begins with the brutal attack of DCI James Langton, whilst in pursuit of illegal immigrants. During his slow and painful recuperation from the horrific injuries, he relies on his partner and fellow police colleague DI Anna Travis to help him through the pain. This makes Anna reconsider her feelings for Langton and the relationship ends.

Just when DI Anna Travis thinks that things are improving, she is assigned to finding the killer of a library assistant and she is forced to put her personal feelings aside and work alongside Langton, to solve a succession of brutal murders. Little does she know, that Langton has a hidden agenda, working alongside the investigation.

Firstly, it took me until I was nearly half way though the book, until I really got into the plot. Even then, I still had problems with it.

I found the relationship between Langton and Travis, one dimensional and unconvincing. Towards the end, I didn't care what was going to happen to them and I think that their relationship wasn't needed anyway, as it didn't really contribute much to the plot.

Also I found that there were discrepancies during the book. One being a spelling mistake which in the grand scheme of things isn't very important, but I found that it detracted my attention away from the plot. Also at one point, Langton is struggling to walk and then further along in the book, he kicks a man without having any pain, despite it being made clear that he has live a life with constant pain. I found that this change made Langton's situation, unbelievable and inconsistent.

The way which La Plante used character such as Harry Blunt and Langton, to voice political views about the effects of immigrations within the UK, was very off putting in my opinion. I like it when a book has a political or social comment, but I believe that the message being delivered throughout the book should have been less obvious. I found that it hindered the story's fluidity.

Being a fan of writer's such as Kate Atkinson, who cleverly connects several strands of story throughout her books, I thought that to begin with, La Plante's use of this technique made the story gripping. However towards the end, there were so many strands of plot, that I felt like there were 2 book's worth of content, crammed into one book.

In her defence, she did repeatedly give updates throughout the story, as to what was going on. However, I felt that that gave the book a 'stop/ start' pacing to the book. This got quite annoying to be honest, because even with plot explanations, at times I still was confused as to what was going on, as I felt that the storyline was rather muddy. I also wasn't keen on the ending. I think that the book would have had a better ending, if it had one chapter less than it did.

You may be reading this and thinking that I didn't like that book, but it did have a few redeeming points. La Plante's writing kept me interested and I felt like I wanted to know what was going to happen, despite its flaws. So she must have been doing something right. There were parts of the book that kept me riveted, but then also left me bored. I felt the elements when Anna was interacting with the traumatised children, were heart wrenching and sensitively written.

I'm not particularly fond of reviews that sit on the fence. However with this book, I have to do just that. I neither liked, nor disliked the book. If you like a complex plot aren't sensitive to swearing and grisly scenes, then you might like this book.

As for me, I don't think that I am going to read another Lynda La Plante book, in a hurry.

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