I haven’t read a Lynda La Plante book for years. I’m not sure why that is, but now I’m kicking myself for all that time lost because now I really need to go and catch up! I’d forgotten how good she is at what she does!
Judas Horse is actually the second book featuring DC Jack Warr. I probably only realised that when I was about halfway in and started thinking that there might possibly be some backstory here, but the truth is that sufficient background info is given to allow this to be read as a standalone. I would definitely go back and read that first book (by the name of Buried) though, purely for the heck of it!
La Plante has created a character who’s that perfect blend of astute cop and rugged family man with enough of a past to make him interesting, but not too messed up! Jack Warr knows exactly how to read people. He understands how they work, and knows how to use this to his advantage. This has helped him become a sought after team leader when there’s a tricky case to crack. And this is what happens when he’s recruited to go and head up an investigation in the Cotswolds that the department there have been struggling with for some time. There have been a spate of robberies happening that they just can’t seem to get to the bottom of and although initially they seemed to be few and far between, they’re definitely escalating in number and now happening every couple of weeks.
The area is an affluent one, with many celebrities and wealthy A-listers living there, both full- and part-time. The main thing that’s been hindering the investigation is that many of these people don’t want the interference that comes with a police investigation, so they’re not willing to allow much to be done about the robberies. The police in the area are also sure that more robberies have occurred that haven’t even been reported. They’re concerned that this is all leading somewhere, but they’re not sure where … or why. It’s Jack’s job to find that out.
He’s immediately aware that he’s the interloper who’s arriving in, what to him, is foreign territory. But with his usual sensitivity and charm, he quickly wins over the locals and has no problem being able to lead from the front. Just as he’s been able to learn from others, he has a way about him that ensures that others will learn from him. And as he starts to get the lay of the land the team working with him all eagerly open their eyes and start to see things in a completely different light. Sometimes all that’s needed are a fresh pair of eyes.
As the burglaries continue, they start to increase in frequency it seems that the perpetrators are more willing to take risks, and when the autistic son of one of the homeowners is brutally assaulted, there is concern that whoever is committing these crimes will have no problem with violence if and when it’s required. Time seems to be running out, especially when one of the locals starts throwing his weight around, threatening to report Jack and his entire team if the situation is not brought under control … immediately!
But Jack is not worried about intimidation. He has his ways and means of getting to the bottom of things, and he understands how communities work when they seem to have closed ranks. He knows that what looks like arrogance is usually just disguised fear … or something else, hidden just under the surface. And he’ll get to the bottom of it.
This is Lynda La Plante at her best. She’s created a cast of characters that work so well together that it looks just about seamless. Jack’s not a saint: he’s willing to bend the rules if it means he’ll get results, but he does what he needs to do out of necessity. Most of the time he shares with his team: information, the highs and the lows … but sometimes he makes a mistake or two and when he does, he acknowledges it and tries to make it right if he can. But he’s not going to dwell on things that can’t be fixed. He’ll move on and expect others to do the same. He doesn’t have time for people who sulk. There’s a job to do!
The combination of police procedural with interludes of Jack as a homebody are a refreshing and different approach that allows readers to see him in both environments. We also get to see what contributes to the man he is in the field. There is often reference to family and to children and Jack’s perception of situations now that he is a father to a newborn baby girl. I found this to be such a unique change from all the cops we so often read about in numerous (oh so numerous!) books who are broken and damaged and who are estranged from their families with no hope of reconciling with their children!
This is a 5-star read! Edgy in parts, and a bit slower in others. But the pace is balanced perfectly. Thanks to Compulsive Readers and Zaffre for the Blog Tour. Take a look at what other bloggers are saying about Judas Horse …