Anthony McIntyre 🔖 So as to avoid some pedant jumping down my throat for inexactitude, I make no claim to this being the second Lynda La Plante book that I have read.


Prior to Tennison I had ran my eyes over Red Dahlia. This second foray into La Plante was via audio book, a great way to imbibe a book if it is interesting enough.

La Plante was asked once from where her famous detective Jayne Tennison of Prime Suspect fame had emerged. Wrongfooted by the question, because there was no readymade answer, she revisited the character and created a prequel to what was already in the literary world.

Did it work? Not so much for me. I am at a disadvantage not having read the others in the Tennison series but the storyline here was pretty flat. La Plante erred in the same way Sissel-Jo Gazan did in Arc Of The Swallow - she ran two narratives side by side giving far too much time to the family and their tedious rows and conflicts. The Skovs of Copenhagen or the Bentleys of London, their mundane squabbles detract from the quality of what is an otherwise good story. The strong part of the book, the police work, was dragged down into the mire of family affairs.

In 1973 Jane Tennison lives at home with her parents and has just completed her training at the police college and has been assigned as a probationary to the Hackney police  - which her mother thinks is well below her daughter's station with all its ruffians. That old class snobbery underscored by the rich accent of the narrator, made even more funny by the assertion of Jane's father in the wake of government sex scandals that Prime Minister Ted Heath alone was not paying for sex. Ignorance is a defence in some cases - the father was not to know in 1973 that Ted Teeth had other ways of getting his gnashers into non consenting partners.  

A chance encounter with Renee Bentley, whose bag of shopping spilled onto the street as a result of a collision with a rushing Tennison, late for work, became the bridge for two main storylines. The first is the double murder of a young couple with a troubled history and the other is a bank robbery. Despite her tender years - still in her early twenties - Tennison proves remarkably attentive with a memory to match, and sees clues where her more experienced colleagues might have overlooked them. In both cases, her input proved decisive. She was destined not to be a beat copper. Her skills were ensuring the unfolding of a non-uniformed career path along which she was being invited to tread with gumshoes. 

The development of the Tennison character is the purpose of the book and arguably also its most endearing feature. From naive rookie she slowly acquires the cynicism, and by the conclusion is able to look superiors in the face while lying through her teeth with that accomplished cop penchant for dissembling.

La Plante conjures up the male culture of both the British police and gangland. A macho and often misogynistic world where women are treated as gofers who make tea and run errands for the men in their lives, often suffering violence at the hands of their quick fisted partners. 

For me the interest started to sag, my concentration lapsing with my mind drifting to other things while I walked. I considered not even going back over the parts I had zoned out from but relented. In the end the work was rescued by an explosive climax tinged with sadness. But even here things were predictable. Unlike Scandinoir, there were no complicated twists to this plot. Awkward social situations had arisen throughout the novel and it seemed there was one convenient way of solving them which the author resorted to.

Still, there was enough in the character of Tennison - influenced maybe by the brilliant performance of Helen Mirren in the television series - to prompt me into preordering what was the original book in the world of  JT.

Lynda La Plante, 2015, Tennison. Simon & Schuster ASIN: B00QNW6JFE


Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.



Tennison

Anthony McIntyre 🔖 So as to avoid some pedant jumping down my throat for inexactitude, I make no claim to this being the second Lynda La Plante book that I have read.


Prior to Tennison I had ran my eyes over Red Dahlia. This second foray into La Plante was via audio book, a great way to imbibe a book if it is interesting enough.

La Plante was asked once from where her famous detective Jayne Tennison of Prime Suspect fame had emerged. Wrongfooted by the question, because there was no readymade answer, she revisited the character and created a prequel to what was already in the literary world.

Did it work? Not so much for me. I am at a disadvantage not having read the others in the Tennison series but the storyline here was pretty flat. La Plante erred in the same way Sissel-Jo Gazan did in Arc Of The Swallow - she ran two narratives side by side giving far too much time to the family and their tedious rows and conflicts. The Skovs of Copenhagen or the Bentleys of London, their mundane squabbles detract from the quality of what is an otherwise good story. The strong part of the book, the police work, was dragged down into the mire of family affairs.

In 1973 Jane Tennison lives at home with her parents and has just completed her training at the police college and has been assigned as a probationary to the Hackney police  - which her mother thinks is well below her daughter's station with all its ruffians. That old class snobbery underscored by the rich accent of the narrator, made even more funny by the assertion of Jane's father in the wake of government sex scandals that Prime Minister Ted Heath alone was not paying for sex. Ignorance is a defence in some cases - the father was not to know in 1973 that Ted Teeth had other ways of getting his gnashers into non consenting partners.  

A chance encounter with Renee Bentley, whose bag of shopping spilled onto the street as a result of a collision with a rushing Tennison, late for work, became the bridge for two main storylines. The first is the double murder of a young couple with a troubled history and the other is a bank robbery. Despite her tender years - still in her early twenties - Tennison proves remarkably attentive with a memory to match, and sees clues where her more experienced colleagues might have overlooked them. In both cases, her input proved decisive. She was destined not to be a beat copper. Her skills were ensuring the unfolding of a non-uniformed career path along which she was being invited to tread with gumshoes. 

The development of the Tennison character is the purpose of the book and arguably also its most endearing feature. From naive rookie she slowly acquires the cynicism, and by the conclusion is able to look superiors in the face while lying through her teeth with that accomplished cop penchant for dissembling.

La Plante conjures up the male culture of both the British police and gangland. A macho and often misogynistic world where women are treated as gofers who make tea and run errands for the men in their lives, often suffering violence at the hands of their quick fisted partners. 

For me the interest started to sag, my concentration lapsing with my mind drifting to other things while I walked. I considered not even going back over the parts I had zoned out from but relented. In the end the work was rescued by an explosive climax tinged with sadness. But even here things were predictable. Unlike Scandinoir, there were no complicated twists to this plot. Awkward social situations had arisen throughout the novel and it seemed there was one convenient way of solving them which the author resorted to.

Still, there was enough in the character of Tennison - influenced maybe by the brilliant performance of Helen Mirren in the television series - to prompt me into preordering what was the original book in the world of  JT.

Lynda La Plante, 2015, Tennison. Simon & Schuster ASIN: B00QNW6JFE


Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.



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