Violent burglars have been terrorising residents across the English countryside. But when a mutilated body is discovered in a Cotswolds house, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary group of opportunist thieves.
As Detective Jack Warr investigates, he discovers locals with dark secrets, unearths hidden crimes – and hits countless dead ends. With few leads and the violent attacks escalating, he will have to act as audaciously as the criminals if he hopes to stop them.
When Warr meets Charlotte Miles, a terrified woman with links to the group, he must use her to lure the unsuspecting killers into one last job, and into his trap. But with the law already stretched to breaking point, any failure will be on Warr’s head – and any more blood spilled, on his hands …
I will admit it now, I have never read a novel by Lynda La Plante, however I have watched all of the Jane Tennsion series so Judas Horse would be my first foray. It wasn’t Jane Tennsion that La Plante wrote about but a new detective DC Jack Warr, one who first appeared in Buried the first of her new series. Trust me to not start at the beginning, and yes it would have been helpful but it didn’t stop my enjoyment nor any continual second guessing about past events.
Who was Jack Warr? As far as I could make out he was newly married to Maggie, about to become a first time father and shared a house with his mother, Penny. La Plante gave us a good sense of his trepidation as more personal responsibility loomed. I loved that La Plante gave us those two sides of Warr, the personal and the professional, the confidence that oozed in his professional life and the more vulnerable cautiousness in his personal.
His work life was for me the most interesting, the one that got the heart rate going that kept me on my toes, as I wondered what turn the plot would take, who would emerge innocent or guilty. The main plot line revolved around a reign of terror and fear from a gang of clever burglars in the wealthy belt of the Cotswolds, Warr seconded to use his brilliant expertise to bring their reign to an end. I liked that he didn’t blend in, his city ways that caused problems with his new team, his unwillingness to compromise to get results, to alienate those who thought they knew better. It added a distinct edge, but also showed his nurturing qualities, his skill in developing those in which he recognised future potential.
What Plante got across so well was his tenacity and his determination to unearth the criminals, he had an in built ability to think outside the box, to read those he came into contact with.
The burglaries were wonderfully complex, a myriad of layers, intelligently thought out by the perpetrators, and La Plante increased the stakes, turned up the brutality and the lengths they would go to achieve their aim. As Warr unravelled their intentions so his clashes with certain colleagues became more intense, unwanted casualties piled up but still he ploughed on until he achieved his objective.
La Plante didn’t take prisoners least of all the reader never losing their interest, always another corner to turn, another blind alley to back away from. The ending certainly delivered and this reader definitely loved Detective Warr and is looking forward to his next investigation.
I would like to thank Zaffre Books for a copy of Judas Horse to read and review and Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour
About the author
Lynda La Plante (born Lynda Titchmarsh) is a British author, screenwriter, and erstwhile actress (her performances in Rentaghost and other programmes were under her stage name of Lynda Marchal), best known for writing the Prime Suspect television crime series.
Her first TV series as a scriptwriter was the six part robbery series Widows, in 1983, in which the widows of four armed robbers carry out a heist planned by their deceased husbands.
In 1991 ITV released Prime Suspect which has now run to seven series and stars Helen Mirren as DCI Jane Tennison. (In the United States Prime Suspect airs on PBS as part of the anthology program Mystery!) In 1993 La Plante won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for her work on the series. In 1992 she wrote at TV movie called Seekers, starring Brenda Fricker and Josette Simon, produced by Sarah Lawson.
She formed her own television production company, La Plante Productions, in 1994 and as La Plante Productions she wrote and produced the sequel to Widows, the equally gutsy She’s Out (ITV, 1995). The name “La Plante” comes from her marriage to writer Richard La Plante, author of the book Mantis and Hog Fever. La Plante divorced Lynda in the early 1990s.
Her output continued with The Governor (ITV 1995-96), a series focusing on the female governor of a high security prison, and was followed by a string of ratings pulling miniseries: the psycho killer nightmare events of Trial & Retribution (ITV 1997-), the widows’ revenge of the murders of their husbands & children Bella Mafia (1997) (starring Vanessa Redgrave), the undercover police unit operations of Supply and Demand (ITV 1998), videogame/internet murder mystery Killer Net (Channel 4 1998) and the female criminal profiler cases of Mind Games (ITV 2001).
Two additions to the Trial and Retribution miniseries were broadcast during 2006.