cover image The Red Dahlia

The Red Dahlia

Lynda La Plante, . . Touchstone, $14 (416pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-3219-4

In her second Det. Insp. Anna Travis novel (after 2004's Above Suspicion ), British author La Plante, best known for TV's Prime Suspect featuring DCI Jane Tennison, transports the unsolved Black Dahlia murder to present-day London with disappointing results. When a young woman is found butchered in a field, Anna unexpectedly ends up sharing the case with her former lover, DCI James Langton. As they learn the full extent of the murderer's depravity, letters begin arriving at the police station and local paper, echoing those from the infamous Black Dahlia killer, active more than 50 years ago in Los Angeles. The self-named Red Dahlia Avenger mocks Anna and Langton as they hit one dead end after another. Anna lacks Tennison's tough vulnerability and floats through the story without much emotional investment. Procedural minutiae bog down this novel, which, despite the lurid subject matter, never manages to shock the reader. (July)