A seemingly run-of-the-mill missing persons investigation evolves into something more complicated in this installment of La Plante’s Anna Travis series.
An attractive London DCI, Anna Travis still reels from her boyfriend’s murder, prompting her former lover and supervisor to second-guess the handling of a suspicious missing persons case. Alan Rawlins’ father, an employee of the court system, has pulled strings to force the police to cast a wider net while searching for the absent mechanic. Initially skeptical of whether or not Rawlins was, indeed, missing or simply vanished of his own volition, Travis resents being ordered to expand the investigation but after a while, comes to suspect that the likable young man is the victim of foul play. It doesn’t help that his girlfriend, Tina Brooks, comes across as unconcerned that her live-in boyfriend may be dead or that Travis is saddled with a gay partner she doesn’t much like. Soon, the missing persons case turns into much more, and Travis and her team find themselves digging into an underworld of drugs and deception. La Plante intends for Travis to come across as a crack investigator, but falls far short. Instead, Travis is short and unpleasant to her subordinates, lacking in criminal insight, ignorant of the laws she is supposed to enforce, and she knows little about the investigative process. La Plante also pads the story by repeating the steps the investigators have taken in the case over and over, even though nothing new emerges from the reexamination. In addition, the plot twists come across as artificial and contrived, with cartoonish characterization. As a protagonist, Travis is bumbling and mean-spirited. The novel lacks suspense, making it a far cry from those featuring Jane Tennison, the female DCI from her Prime Suspect series.
Plodding and dull, this thriller probably won’t appeal to even the most die-hard La Plante fan.