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Above Suspicion

B+

Nubile blondes may rule in fashion magazines, adolescent sexual fantasies, and the novels of Candace Bushnell, but they don’t fare so well in thrillers — where they are regularly stalked, slashed, sexually assaulted, and strangled. What this says about our warped cultural attitudes I’ll let the Ph.D.’s hash out, but anyone in search of thesis material should investigate Lynda La Plante’s snappy Above Suspicion.

Lynda La Plante, who created the tough, brilliant Prime Suspect TV series, makes no such mistakes in her zippy new mystery. Above Suspicion begins with the discovery of ”stunningly pretty” 17-year-old Melissa Stephens’ golden-haired corpse in a London park. ”A virgin and she gets sodomized, raped and murdered! Life stinks,” announces the commanding detective on the murder investigation, and that’s it for poor Melissa. Now that she’s dead, she’s no longer interesting.

For La Plante, it’s the diabolical killer who drives the action, and she’s concocted a doozy of a prime suspect: Alan Daniels, a charismatic movie star who is trying to live down a horrific childhood. Oleaginous and ingenious, Daniels initiates a sinister flirtation with the rookie cop investigating his case, Anna Travis, who half succumbs to his charms. Stocky, red-haired, vulnerable, and ambitious, Travis is a nifty new creation, a plausible successor to the majestically brusque Jane Tennison that actress Helen Mirren brought to memorable life. La Plante’s writing is telegraphic and sometimes graceless, but it’s full of sexual tension, intelligence and suspense.

Above Suspicion
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