Book Review - Silent Scream by Lynda La Plante

I am more than a little fond of reading thriller books, so it comes as a surprise that I have never read anything by Lynda La Plante who, according to one critic, ‘practically invented the thriller’. I have seen a number of the TV programmes that have been based on her books including the hugely popular Prime Suspect and Trial and Retribution series’ and have thoroughly enjoyed them, but I have never quite got round to reading her work. So it was with a little excitement that I gratefully received her newest offering Silent Scream, from publishers Simon and Schuster.

Silent Scream is the latest in the series of books that follows Detective Anna Travis as she works on various murder cases. In this one, an up and coming young movie star, Amanda Delaney, is brutally murdered in her own home. During the investigation, it becomes clear that Amanda has lead a terribly troubled life which included childhood abuse, eating disorders and a string of sordid affairs. Detective Anna Travis soon discovers that Amanda was planning to publish her no holds barred memoirs, which meant that there was a long list of people who would have a motive to murder.
The first thing I have to say about this book is that I didn’t realise that it was part of a series. The fact that I’ve never read any of the previous books didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this particular story, but there is a side story that centres on Anna Travis’ previous relationship with her married boss, Chief Superintendant James Langton that I couldn’t get to grips with. It felt like I’d walked in half way through a conversation and so I didn’t really understand the relationship and the tension that La Plante describes throughout the story. The two characters made an unlikely pairing in my opinion and I couldn’t see how they had got together. Obviously that isn’t a fault of this book, more my fault that I’ve joined a series at such a late stage, however I would probably advise you to start from the beginning.

There were quite a lot of characters in Silent Scream and at times I found it difficult to keep up with who was who, as some of the characters we only meet fleetingly but they appear again later on. The main characters in the book are Anna and, although we only meet her for a little time whilst she is alive, Amanda. I thought both characters were well written, although Anna was a strange choice for a heroine. First of all she is only 29, something that you find out halfway through the book but that came as a surprise to me as I’d already decided in my mind that she was a lot older. She is something of a loner and it is a trait that gets her in trouble repeatedly throughout the book and isolates her from her colleagues. Again this is a something that is clearly built up in previous novels, because even at the start of Silent Scream her colleagues are already talking about her behind her back and becoming tired of her methods, even though it seems as though she hasn’t done anything wrong yet.

Amanda Delaney was my favourite character by far and La Plante did a superb job of bringing her to life, even though she was murdered at the very beginning of the book. We find out her tragic story through the various people that she knew and loved – from popular movie stars to low-life drug dealers - and through Anna Travis’ investigation into her life. Amanda’s life was clearly short but not sweet. Although we don’t feel entirely sorry for her because she had a mean streak that made her lots of enemies. She was a feisty character who made a great subject for the story. She was a great example of how things aren’t always as they seem: here was this stunning and talented young actress who seemingly had everything she could wish for, yet it seems that she had more than her fair share of trauma.

The story is the fast paced, edge of your seat stuff that you expect from this genre and there are twists and turns a plenty. La Plante has a way of making you attempt to solve the mystery as you are going along and just when you think you’ve done it, she throws in another twist. Like I said earlier, one of the ways she does this is by introducing a lot of sub-characters. This is a good way of doing it because it means you are kept on wondering until almost the end. Although I did find that some of the characters were introduced with their own little side stories that weren’t really tied up at the end; some of the stories just fizzled out a bit and whilst I understand they are there to add to the mystery, they ended a little limply.

Overall though, and despite me joining the series halfway through, I did really enjoy Silent Scream and I’ll definitely be reading more of La Plante’s work. The story is fast paced and gripping and she has a great knack for writing interesting and enthralling characters – exactly what you want from a thriller writer.


Julie P said...

Thank you for sharing. Personally, I hate reading series books out of order, so I am going to look up the first in her series and add it to my TBR list....

IceJewel said...

I like reading mystery books, but I will have to hunt for the first in this series to start with !
Great review :)

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails