‘EVERY LEGEND HAS A BEGINNING…
BEFORE ‘PRIME SUSPECT’ THERE WAS TENNISON’
Today I review Good Friday, the latest novel by the original ‘Queen of Crime‘, Lynda La Plante.
Good Friday is the third book in her Tennison series, taking us back to 1976 when Jane Tennison had just graduated as a detective and the IRA are involved in a deadly bombing campaign in London.
Good Friday was just published on 24th August by Bonnier Zaffre.
Read on for my thoughts…
During 1974 and 1975, London was subjected to a terrifying bombing campaign by the IRA. Over 40 bombs exploded, 35 people were killed and many more injured. In March 1976, Jane Tennison is awaiting her first assignment as a fully fledged detective is now a fully-fledged detective.
On the way to court one morning, Jane passes through Covent Garden Underground station and is caught up in a bomb blast that leaves several people dead, and many horribly injured. A key witness, Jane is adamant she can’t identify the bomber but when her photograph at the scene appears in the newspapers, it puts her and her family at risk from IRA retaliation.
‘Good Friday’ is the eagerly awaited date of the annual formal CID dinner, due to take place at St Ermin’s Hotel in Central London. Hundreds of detectives attend with partners and wives and as Jane arrives she realises, with sudden and sickening recall, that she recognises the bomber.
Is St Ermin’s the next target…and will she be able to warn her senior officers in time to prevent a bloodbath that could destroy London’s entire detective force?
Many of us have seen the fabulous actress Helen Mirren star in the ITV drama, Prime Suspect, as she portrayed DCI/DS Jane Tennison. In this series we witness the rise of Tennison in the police-force as she determinedly climbs up and crashes through the glass ceiling of a male dominated workplace.
But who is Jane Tennison? Where did her career begin?
In Good Friday we join Jane Tennison in 1976, as she is about embark on her career as a detective. Young, fresh and somewhat naive, Jane is quickly immersed in a very sexist male working environment.
London is a city on edge following a spate of IRA bombings and the public are on permanent alert, although simultaneously getting on with their daily lives.
Jane arrives to work with hopes of a fast track move through the ranks, with her eye very much fixed on a career with the ‘Flying Squad’.This is an elite group of officers who work at the highest levels of crime and where the pace of work is adrenaline fueled and fast paced. No woman has ever been welcomed into this group.
Jane finds herself with the ‘Dip Squad’ instead. This is a rather eclectic mix of characters, again, all men, that spend their days tracking gangs of organised thieves who are playing havoc on the streets and underground stations in London. At first a little bit hesitant, Jane soon seems to settle in but for Jane it was never going to be straightforward or easy.
She sets out to her very first court case with enthusiasm and vigor, but this is short-lived, as en-route, Jane finds herself witness to a massive bomb attack in Covent Garden Tube station. Her instinct is to stay and help those injured, but it is this willingness to assist that ends up putting Jane’s life and those nearest and dearest to her at risk. Jane is caught on camera, covered in dust and the blood of injured victims. Her’s is the face that is splashed across the newspapers as a potential witness in identifying the bomber.
At the same time, in her personal life, Jane is spreading her wings and is purchasing her first apartment. Her privacy as a detective is non-existent as all details of possible flatmates have to be checked and passed by CID.
Thrown into the spotlight is not where Jane intended to be at such an early stage in her CID career. Her inexperience shines through in many chapters, with the attitude of her colleagues turning quite dismissive and quite cruel in some of their actions toward her.
With the imminent possibility of further threats from the IRA, there is pressure to find the central members of this IRA cell. This is a big, big case and it’s obvious that Jane is well out of her depth, yet she is one plucky lady. With little fear for her own personal safety, Jane stands shoulder to shoulder with her colleagues, not looking for any special treatment. As time ticks slowly by, there is a major chance that this next bomb could result in complete carnage and destruction. Can the IRA be stopped? Is Jane Tennison up to the job?
Good Friday, for me, was more than just a police procedural.
Lynda La Plante highlights the extreme imbalance in the workforce at the time. The descriptions of the male officers were so accurate, I could almost sense the testosterone off the pages. These were MEN. They smoked, they drank, they took risks, they had women, they had confidence in themselves. In their eyes, the police-force was no place for a woman. From the get-go, Jane is up against it, yet she completely immerses herself in the job, ignoring the cold-shoulders and general dismissive attitude toward her work. Now, I will just say that, at times, Jane did make some disastrous decisions and I found myself having an imaginary conversation with her. But…..this was the 1970’s, times were very, very different and Jane Tennison was just at the beginning of what would be a very successful career.
A fast read, an easy read, quite light compared to other crime books on the shelves at the moment, making Good Friday quite a refreshing alternative.
Purchase Link ~ Good Friday
Lynda La Plante was born in Liverpool. She trained for the stage at RADA and worked with the National Theatre and RDC before becoming a television actress. She then turned to writing – and made her breakthrough with the phenomenally successful TV series WIDOWS.
Her novels have all been international bestsellers. Her original script for the much-acclaimed PRIME SUSPECT won awards from BAFTA, Emmys, British Broadcasting and Royal Television Society as well as the 1993 Edgar Allan Poe Writer’s Award.
Lynda has been made honorary fellow of the British Film Institute and was awarded the BAFTA Dennis Potter Writer’s Award 2000.
Lynda La Plante was made a CBE (2008) for services to Literature, Drama and Charity. She is a member of The Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame and is the only lay person to be made a fellow of The Forensic Science Society.
She lives in London and New York.
Image via Lynda La Plante website
Words vis Amazon Author Page
Website ~ http://lyndalaplante.com/
Twitter ~ @LaPlanteLynda