Friday, June 16, 2017

Review of "Backlash" by Lynda La Plante

A routine traffic stop of a party supplies truck in London leads to the discovery of a woman's body in the back and the arrest of the truck's driver, skeezy Henry Oates. Upon interrogation at the police station Oates admits to killing the woman and talks abouts having killed a couple of other people in the past. One of Oate's supposed victims is a young girl of 13 who disappeared five years before, a cold case that was never resolved.

Detective Chief Inspector Anna Travis is on the team tasked with looking into Oates's claims. The case takes on a very high profile because Anna's former boss/mentor - Detective Chief Superintendent James Langton - was in charge of the unsolved missing girl case and can't get it out of his mind. Though Langton is currently at home recuperating from an injury he insists on keeping up with the Oates investigation and - during a critical police action - shows up and starts giving orders. This has unfortunate consequences.

Anna and the rest of the team unearth a lot of informaton about Henry Oates, who may well have killed even more women than he's admitted to. Oates, with his smashed nose, dirty clothing, and appalling hygiene, seems stupid (and perhaps insane) at first. However, he turns out to be a very clever criminal who enjoys playing mind games with the police.

In essence the story is a very long police procedural. As the story proceeds the cops discover and follow various clues in an attempt to locate the bodies of Oates's victims and to find the evidence that will convict him. Some of this is too drawn out. For instance, a scene where the police search a quarry is excessively detailed and seems to go on forever. Also, the story has a large number of characters, some of whom tend to blend together.

All in all, an okay book that many suspense fans will probably enjoy.

Rating: 3 stars

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