DCI Anna Travis is offered a chance to study at Quantico but first she has to handle an unpromising cold case and is assigned an FBI Agent, Jessie Dewar, who has a knack for rubbing Anna’s team and witnesses up the wrong way. The cold case is that of Josh Reynolds, a part-owner of a London nightclub who was found dead, his own gun in his hand and suicide note on his computer. The initial investigation wrapped it up as suicide. However, a former bartender, now serving time, has passed on information that suggests Josh Reynolds was murdered and it was made to look like suicide although he doesn’t know or is not saying who the murderer is.
Anna Travis’s team aren’t enthusiastic. Jessie Dewar seems convinced that Reynolds’s wife and business partner murdered Josh and made it look like suicide and attempts to prove her theory, behaving as if Anna’s team are below her and provoking reactions from witnesses thus making them reluctant to cooperate. Anna has her work cut out trying to temper Jessie Dewar’s abrasiveness and muster enthusiasm for an investigation that initially seems pointless. However, Anna learns that incompetent superiors guided a then inexperienced investigating officer to assume Josh Reynolds took his own life so the investigation was less thorough that it should have been.
However, Anna Travis’s team are far more thorough and piece together enough clues to proceed on the basis Josh Reynolds’s death was actually murder. Their increasing bundle of evidence strongly suggests his wife, Donna, had nothing to do with it. Donna, along with her sister Aisa, work for a medical charitable foundation headed by their widowed mother, Lady Gloria Lynne. Gloria has very powerful connections, not just socially and politically but also within the police force, and doesn’t hesitate to lean on them. The team also look at Josh’s family. His widowed mother and her sister were also living in London but had fallen out. Josh’s aunt didn’t attend his mother’s funeral. The sisters had a brother, Samuel, who came over from Jamaica to attend.
To her frustration, Anna Travis has to leave her team to attend the FBI course at Quantico. There she’s assigned a missing person’s case which she solves. In the course of which she learns about plant poisons. Through her course tutor’s colleague, she learns that Samuel never returned to Jamaica. Anna develops a theory about the Reynolds case and her course tutor suggests she returns to England to prove her theory. With support of her superior, she returns. Unfortunately, all the evidence Anna has is circumstantial and not enough for a conviction. She is also hindered by politics. Can she pull together a solid enough case for a prosecution before a very manipulative sociopath destroys her chance?
“Wrongful Death” is a convincing, compelling story with memorable characters. The complex storyline is deftly held together so readers don’t feel overwhelmed or lose the plot. Lynda la Plante doesn’t wrap everything up neatly and asks if justice can still be served even if Anna Travis doesn’t get her day in court.
By Emma Lee