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Book Review: Deadly Intent by Lynda LaPlante

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Deadly Intent is the fourth book in the police-heavy mystery-thriller Anna Travis series by British author Lynda LaPlante. Much like previous novels in the series, Deadly Intent is well-researched, carefully crafted, and explores the fascinating psyche of (and complex) title character.

This time around, Travis is confronted with another relationship from her past: Anthony Collingwood, most commonly known as Alexander Fitzpatrick, one of the most wanted drug lords in the Western hemisphere, who left Travis without warning nearly a decade ago. Travis believes Fitzpatrick to be dead, until former colleague Frank Brandon is found murdered.

While this book is an entertaining, hard-pounding mystery, it just isn't as good as the previous books in the Anna Travis series. LaPlante's skill as a writer is still apparent here — the case is woven together in a very clever way; the connections between people and evidence slowly come together to explain the case — but it takes far too long to bring these connections together, which severely brings the pace down. While LaPlante’s descriptions are phenomenally specific and help move the reader between plot points and through the mystery, this detail becomes too much several times throughout the novel and seems to distract from the plot more than add to it.

Another pacing issue lies with Travis's constant personal drama and soul-searching — having broken up with Chief Superintendent James Langton after a fairly melodramatic affair — and her constant stress to still be able to deal with him every day as her superior. While this fits in with the pair's dramatic relational issues in previous novels, the tone is completely different and nearly every time that Travis really gets going on the case, she gets caught up in drama with Langton.

While there are issues with this novel, it's still a decent addition to the Anna Travis series for fans of police procedural mystery/thrillers. There is a good crime novel in Deadly Intent, but the book has too much filler, too much soul-searching drama, too much detail, and too many loose ends. If you're looking for an easy-to-read, frothy beach read, than look elsewhere.

For non-fans of the series, this will be a difficult one to get into — it's probably best to start with one of the three previous novels (Above Suspicion, Clean Cut, and The Red Dahlia).

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