Half a century after the Black Dahlia murder rocked L.A., a lethal copycat goes to work across the Atlantic.
In the three days between the night she disappeared and the morning her body was found, Louise Pennel was beaten, slashed, sexually assaulted in unimaginable ways, drained of blood and cut in two. Any hope that her murder might be kept quiet is dashed when someone, presumably the murderer, begins sending anonymous notes to newspaper reporters, echoing almost verbatim the notes in the real-life Black Dahlia case. And any hope that the inquiry will be routine for DI Anna Travis is dashed when she takes up with Dick Reynolds, one of those very reporters, shortly after the Chief Inspector assigned the case is replaced by her ex-lover, DCI James Langton (Above Suspicion, 2006). The grueling, month-long hunt for the brutal killer has its share of disappointments and dead ends. The parallels between the Black Dahlia and the Red Dahlia end up going nowhere, and the clues to the murderer never coalesce in a convincing portrait. But La Plante writes such a mean page, and then another and another, that most readers will be utterly absorbed in the minutiae of the investigation, each detail made gripping by the creator of television’s Prime Suspect.
Just what fans of the British procedural have been praying for while the telly is in summer reruns.