Today it is my absolute pleasure to join the blog tour for Judas Horse, the brand new DS Jack Warr thriller from author Lynda La Plante. I loved the first book in the series, Buried, so jumped at the chance for an early read of the new book. My thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for the invite and to publishers Zaffre for the advance copy for review. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
SOME KILLERS CAN’T BE TAMED . . .
The brand new Detective Jack Warr thriller from the Queen of Crime Drama, Lynda La Plante – now available to pre-order in hardback, eBook and audiobook.
‘Do you know what a Judas Horse is? When the wild mustangs are running free, you corral one and train it. When he’s ready, you release him and he’ll bring his team back into the corral – like Judas betraying them…’
Violent burglars have been terrorising residents across the English countryside. But when a mutilated body is discovered in a Cotswolds house, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary group of opportunist thieves.
As Detective Jack Warr investigates, he discovers locals with dark secrets, unearths hidden crimes – and hits countless dead ends. With few leads and the violent attacks escalating, he will have to act as audaciously as the criminals if he hopes to stop them.
When Warr meets Charlotte Miles, a terrified woman with links to the group, he must use her to lure the unsuspecting killers into one last job, and into his trap. But with the law already stretched to breaking point, any failure will be on Warr’s head – and any more blood spilled, on his hands…
Oh I do love Jack Warr. He’s such a refreshing character. Devoted family man, determined and focused Police Officer and with just enough of a hint of menace and independance to keep him on the right side of being must too perfect, he’s the kind of character I love to read about and to spend a tension, action and thrill filled afternoon with. I ate this book up in a single day and as satisfying as it was, it just leaves me hungry for more from the series too.
This time around we find meet up with Jack with his circumstances somewhat changed and still changing. His fiance is on the cusp of giving birth, a time that fills him with a touch of dread more for the fact he may have to engage in meaningful discussions over how to decorate the nursery as it does the through of impending fatherhood. Despite this, he still finds himself caught up in a couple of truly meaty cases. His reputation from his previous cases precedes him and he finds himself invited to assist on the case of the ‘Wimbledon Prowler’, a man who has been targeting homes around the Wimbledon area and burgling them whilst the owners are away. He doesn’t arrive empty handed, and the experience he gains from working with former Detective Mike Haskin proves invaluable when he takes a temporary transfer to Wiltshire to help in the case that will prove to be an absolute killer.
Very wealthy homes in the town of Chipping Norton are being targeted but burglars intent of the biggest of paydays (think David Cameron, Anne Diamond, Jeremy Clarkson kind of digs and you’ll get the picture). This is well beyond the scope of the Wimbledon Prowler’s top hauls, and the victims are not the kind of people to want their private lives made public, just adding to the challenges the local team face. When the case turns violent, it is DI Simon Ridley they turn to for help, and from there to DS Jack Warr. And this is where it all starts to get … interesting.
Lynda la Plante has done a brilliant job of creating this new team and this new dynamic for Jack to work in. Whilst his presence is initially met with hostility, his natural way of charming, maybe manipulating people, turns in his favour and he has. the local team eating out of his hands. That doesn’t necessarily extend to his superiors and there is much conflict to be found just within the investigating teams, conflict which keeps things fresh and keeps the tension high, even when the investigation keeps hitting dead ends. I love the duality of Jack’s nature, and it you have read the first book you will know there is good reason to be excited to see this explored in more detail this time around. You never get the feeling that he will cross to the dark side, but his determination so see wrongs ut right means that he’s not afraid to bend the odd rule, or push his toes across the odd dangerously red line. But for every moment his anger erupts up see the absolute tenderness of his nature when he is with his family, the love and trust they have for each other which makes me root for him even more.
The tension in this tale is pitched just right. Although it is sometimes hard to feel sorry for one of the victims, the pomposity of his nature, you are still aware of the fact that he is ultimately still a victim and the empathy and sympathy will come. The escalation from simple breaking and entering to violence, whilst explored with a certain sense of detachment and kept largely off the page, is no less shocking and still made me angry as a reader, all the while realising how authentic that scene and that emotion felt. There is a perfect blend of character and story here, and there is nothing to fear from having to meet a whole new team of Detectives as their personalities are set out so clearly that I felt as though I already knew them, or at the least, characters like them. They aren’t all likable, although some do redeem themselves eventually, but it was fun watching Jack get the better of the worst of them. Ridley is growing on me too. He’s still very straight, a counter to Jack’s more maverick style, but we see him human side emerge, even if it is only after a healthy portion of Pimms.
There is a very cinematic feel to the story, making me feel like I was really in the thick of the action and feeling every moment of tension as it grew. With a very dramatic final chase to catch the perpetrators, and one humdinger of a showdown between Jack and the most violent of the team, I was left with a big smile on my face and an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. I am loving this series and can’t wait to see what Jack gets up to next.
About the Author
Lynda La Plante was born in Liverpool. She trained for the stage at RADA and worked with the National theatre and RDC before becoming a television actress. She then turned to writing – and made her breakthrough with the phenomenally successful TV series Widows. Her novels have all been international bestsellers.
Her original script for the much-acclaimed Prime Suspect won awards from BAFTA, Emmy, British Broadcasting and Royal Television Society as well as the 1993 Edgar Allan Poe Award. Lynda has written and produced over 170 hours of international television.
Lynda is one of only three screenwriters to have been made an honorary fellow of the British Film Institute and was awarded the BAFTA Dennis Potter Best Writer Award in 2000. In 2008, she was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to Literature, Drama and Charity.
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