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Above Suspicion : Anna Travis Series : Book 1 - Lynda La Plante

Above Suspicion

Anna Travis Series : Book 1

Paperback Published: 3rd January 2006
ISBN: 9780743276856
Number Of Pages: 392

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Young Anna Travis has been assigned to her first murder case - a series of killings that has shocked even the most hardened of detectives. They started eight years ago - now the body count is up to six. The method of killing is identical, the backgrounds of the girls identical - all drug-users and prostitutes. Then a seventh body is found. The modus operandi is the same - but the victim is a young student with the 'face of an angel'. The profile of the murderer has changed dramatically.

Determined to earn the respect of her male colleagues, Anna stumbles on a vital piece of information which links one man to the killings, a much-loved actor on the brink of international stardom. His arrest would create a media frenzy. But if he were found innocent, his wouldn't be the only career over - Anna's hard fought for reputation would be destroyed once and for all …

About the Author

Lynda La Plante bestowed John Moores University with a creative writing scholarship in her hometown of Liverpool and is an honorary member of the British Film Institute. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has also awarded Lynda with the Dennis Potter Writers Award.

She was awarded a CBE in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours List (for services to Literature, Drama and to Charity), and was presented with the prestigious TV Spielfilm Award for her television adaptation of her novel Above Suspicion at the International Film and Television Festival Conference in Cologne. In 2009 Lynda was inducted into the Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame . Her novels have all been international bestsellers.

Industry Reviews

"Battle-scarred Jane Tennyson moves offstage to make room for a fresh, unlined face...La Plante has given us a smart, plucky series protagonist who's enormously likable despite, or because of, her frailties." -- Kirkus Reviews "Lynda La Plante practically invented the thriller. She is without a doubt one of the best writers working today. Above Suspicion blew me away -- it grabs you and doesn't let go until the last page." -- Karin Slaughter, author of Faithless and Indelible "snappy...zippy new mystery" -- Entertainment Weekly "La Plante keeps readers devouring pages at a murderous rate with this mystery starring detective Anna Travis, the clever daughter of a former London police chief." -- People magazine "For those who love mysteries, and only wish that American crime writer Patricia Cornwell had a dirtier mind, "Above Suspicion" is their book. With the book's American release, Lynda La Plante, the British author of the "Prime Suspect" novels, is back with more bondage, buggery and blasphemy...This perky detective may not only capture the killer and avenge the virgin, but she also emerges as a woman. In the process, La Plante's dead hooker whodunit has turned into an ugly duckling fairy tale" -- Los Angeles Times "A page-turning, nail-biting, and utterly gripping work of crime fiction." -- True Romance magazine "Above Suspicion is a really good thriller with a sympathetic heroine." -- Daily American "Most people hear best-selling British author La Plante's name and think of embattled Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison...here she returns to the familiar (and beloved) police procedural. In this sharp and fast-paced book...as always, La Plante excels at involving readers in the inner workings of a police investigation. Recommended for public libraries." -- Library Journal "This is a terrific British police procedural...The triangular relationships add suspense as the audience wonders whether the naive rookie will fall for the seductive charm of the polished actor or will she act on her admiration and attraction to her superior. Lynda La Plante, author of the delightful Prime Suspect series, provides a marvelous first act to the elation of the sub-genre." -- Harriet Klausner "More than just an excellent mystery, Above Suspicion provides a dramatic look at victims and victimization. Author Lynda La Plante doesn't stop until she squeezes the last drop of emotion from the situation. The story and characters seamlessly flow into a reader's awareness as a complete and compelling reality. For a little added pleasure, an understated romance filters through the detectives' day-to-day grind. Highly recommended." -- Romance Reviews Today

Chapter One

Detective Chief Inspector Langton stared at the women's dead faces. All six of them appeared to have the same joyless, haunted expression. They were all of similar ages and worked in the same profession. The first victim on the file had been strangled twelve years ago.

It was six months ago that the last victim was found; she had been dead for at least eighteen months. Langton had been brought in to Queen's Park to oversee the case. Without a suspect or a witness, he had begun to cross-reference the way the victim had been murdered, and subsequently discovered five identical unsolved cases.

He was certain that they had all been killed by the same person, but to date he had no clues as to who that person might be. It was turning into the most frustrating, dead-end case he had ever worked on. The only thing he was sure about, and that he and the profilers agreed on, was that there would be another victim.

Due to the length of time between each gruesome discovery, there had been little media coverage. Langton wanted to keep it that way; hype and panic would do his investigation more harm than good, and police warnings usually had little effect on the prostitutes. Despite the Yorkshire Ripper being headline news for years, he was finally caught with a tart about to do the business in his car. Police warnings didn't mean much to the street girls when they needed money for drugs or rent, or their kids or their pimps.

Langton leafed through the latest batch of missing persons' files. A photograph caught his eye. 'Melissa Stephens,' he read. According to the report sheet, she was seventeen. The photo showed a stunningly pretty girl withshoulder-length blonde hair and the sweetest of smiles. Compared to the other women on file, this girl looked like an innocent angel. How had the photo ended up in this folder?

Langton put the girl's details to one side and went back to the files of missing prostitutes in their late thirties and early forties. He studied the photos of their beat-up-looking faces intently. He took note that many of the women in this file were European; some were Russian.

Langton's detective sergeant, Mike Lewis, interrupted his concentration. 'She doesn't fit the profile.' He leaned across the desk and picked up Melissa's photograph.

'Yeah, I know. That's why I put her to one side.'

At first, the team had concentrated their search on the local area, but now the net had spread to include Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. They were monitoring missing persons for women with similar profiles to the victims. It was sick, but it was all Langton could do; a fresh victim might provide the vital clue that would lead them to the serial killer.

'Did you hear about Hudson?' asked Lewis.

'No. What about him?'

'He called in sick. He was taken to hospital. May be serious.'

'Shit! The Boss is already checking us out. We'll lose half the team if we don't get a result soon.'

'He might be out for a while.'

Langton lit a cigarette. 'Get someone in to cover him, and fast.'

'OK.'

An hour later Lewis placed half a dozen folders on Langton's desk.

'Christ! Is this all you could come up with?' Langton complained.

'It's all they've got.'

'Leave them with me. I'll get back to you.'

Lewis shut the door and went back to his desk. Langton started to glance through possible replacements for Hudson. The first file belonged to an officer he had worked with before, and didn't get along with. He opened the next one.

Detective Sergeant Anna Travis's file was certainly impressive. After graduating from Oxford University in economics she had done the usual eighteen weeks' training at Hendon, then taken a uniform posting with a response team. Toward the end of her probationary period she had been attached to the local borough CID Robbery and Burglary Squad before switching to the Crime Squad. A memo from her superintendent underlined in red that Travis was a very 'proactive' officer.

Langton flicked through the rest of her CV with less interest. Travis had moved quickly up to the Home Office's High Potential Scheme. The list of attachments she had covered made him smile: robbery, burglary, CID, Community Safety Unit. About the only thing she hadn't worked on yet was a murder team, though he noticed she had applied three times without success.

He was beginning to feel his age. Slightly depressed, he read on. The glowing recommendations from her superiors he took with a pinch of salt; he needed someone with street knowledge and initiative, not just an impressive CV. It was the last paragraph that seized his attention. He straightened up as he read the words: 'Anna Travis is the daughter of the late Detective Chief Superintendent Jack Travis.' Langton started tapping the file thoughtfully with his pen: Jack Travis had been his mentor.

In the outside office, Mike Lewis answered the phone promptly. Then put his head through the open door of Langton's room.

'Gov?'

Langton looked up from his desk, distracted. 'Who is it?'

'Wouldn't say. You want to take it or not?'

'Yeah, yeah,' said Langton, reaching for the phone. 'Stay.'

Mike leafed through some paperwork while Langton spoke tersely: 'How old? Who's on it? OK, thanks. Get back to me. I appreciate it.'

Langton put the phone down. 'Body just found on Clapham Common. I don't think it fits with any of ours — she's young, apparently — but they're only just on the callout.' He rocked back in his chair thoughtfully.

'Mike, do you know DCI Hedges? Crew cut, square head, and full of himself?'

'Yeah. A right arsehole.'

'It's his case, his area. I want you to stand by. If we get any more details I might want to crash in on it.'

Lewis looked at the photos spread out on the desk: 'Are you thinking maybe it's the missing angel?'

'Maybe.' He held out a file and stood up. 'Get this Anna Travis on the team.'

'What, the rookie?'

'Yep.'

'She's never been on a murder team.'

Langton shrugged himself into his coat. 'Her father was Jack Travis. Maybe taking on his penpusher of a daughter will be good karma.'

He stopped at the door. 'Anyway, rate we're going, we might not even have a case. If the chief puts them all on file, we'll be stuck with a skeleton team until they've all been shelved and sent over to the dead file warehouse. G'night.'

'Night.'

Lewis returned to his desk in the incident room and dialed Anna Travis's number.

By quarter to eight the next morning Anna Travis was sitting in a patrol car speeding to the murder site. Although all she had been told was that she was replacing an officer on sick leave, Anna was excited to be finally working in the field for which she had trained so hard.

With Anna in the patrol car were Lewis and another seasoned detective, DC Barolli. Mike Lewis had square shoulders, and a body running to fat. His round face and red cheeks gave him a look of perpetual good humor. Barolli was smaller, with dark, Italian looks but an East London accent.

As they drew up to the Clapham Common parking area, she noticed the presence of the forensic van, and numerous unmarked cars. Although police cordons allowed no one but officers entry, an exception was made for the catering van, which was already in place and serving pies and sandwiches to the teams setting up the base.

What surprised her was the lack of a sense of urgency. Lewis and Barolli went straight from the car to 'Teapot One' to get some coffee. Unsure of the procedure, Anna just hovered nearby. When she looked further across the common toward the yellow ribbons cordoning off the car park, she could see white-suited forensic officers moving around.

'Is this the murder site?' she asked Lewis.

'Pretty obvious. Yeah.'

'Shouldn't we go and sort of make our presence known to DCI Langton?' she said hesitantly.

'You had your breakfast, then?' Lewis asked.

'Yes, before I got the callout.' Actually, she'd had just a cup of black coffee; she had been too nervous to eat. Anna waited while Lewis and Barolli queued up for their bacon sandwiches. They made short work of them, after which the three began to make their way to the murder site. Anna let them lead, deliberately falling behind. After eight hundred yards, they slithered down a sloping bank. She noticed both officers tense up. Lewis removed a handkerchief from his pocket and shook it out; Barolli unwrapped chewing gum.

They approached a group that stood by a clump of trees in a small hollow. There the forensic officers were kneeling or moving deliberately around the area. Anna stepped onto the duckboards placed strategically along the muddy incline. Though the two detectives nodded toward various people, no one spoke. The quiet was unsettling. Then it hit her. The smell was like dead flowers left too long to rot in water, when their stems become soggy and discolored. Soon it was overpowering.

'You took your time,' DCI Langton barked at the two detectives. He turned to light a cigarette and she saw a tall rangy man in a forensic-issue white paper suit, five o'clock shadow already breaking the surface of his angular chin. Langton had a hawk nose and hard piercing eyes that made it difficult to meet his gaze. Neither detective answered him now, both turning to look instead toward the white tent that had just been erected. Langton inhaled deeply, then the smoke streamed from his nostrils.

'Is it a possible?' she overheard Lewis ask his superior quietly.

'Yeah. But you watch. The dickhead in charge is going to hang on to the case if we can't prove it — and fast.'

Now Langton's gaze fell on Anna. He stared unapologetically at her.

'You the new DS?'

'Yes, sir.'

'I knew your father. Good man.'

'Thank you,' she said softly.

ISBN: 9780743276856
ISBN-10: 074327685X
Series: Anna Travis Mysteries
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 392
Published: 3rd January 2006
Publisher: TOUCHSTONE PR
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.32 x 13.34  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.32

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