A Face in the Crowd, Lynda La Plante

A Face in the Crowd is the second story in the Prime Suspect series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison and is more or less a “novelisation” of  the TV episodes.

I saw the TV version first and found the book was a very straight, unembellished retelling of a murder investigation that is complicated by racism, both real and assumed. When workmen discover a plastic wrapped body, buried behind the house where they’ve been working, racial politics, exploited by vested interests lead investigators to conflicting conclusions and tragedy before the truth emerges.

I read it at this particular time because I wanted something relatively un-taxing that I knew I could read quickly. All of the Lynda La Plante books I’ve read so far have been “page turners” so I was confident this one would be too, and would give me something I could easily get through in a day or two, this book being shorter than the others I’ve read.

While it served the purpose mentioned above, overall it was a disappointing reading experience, adding nothing to what was told in its original screen format, apart from reminding me of its intriguing story . Someone who hasn’t seen the TV show in recent years might appreciate the book more than I did. However there’s quite an interesting preface to the book in which La Plante writes briefly about her involvement with the Prime Suspect series.

I still have a few more of La Plante’s Anna Travis series left to read, as well as the three Prime Suspect prequels featuring the younger Jane Tennison. The latter also has a TV association. The first book Tennison being adapted into the TV series (Prime Suspect 1973) that set me on my first steps into the world of crime fiction. In that case, with the book being written before the series, I’m confident of a much more rewarding read than with the book featured above.