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Cold Blood - Book Review

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by Gillian Ching (subscribe)
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Published January 14th 2022
Find out if solving this murder lies in voodoo
The disappearance of teenager Anna Louise Caley in New Orleans has left police officers and private investigators baffled and unable to have any sense of the whereabouts of the young, sweet, aspiring tennis player in the 1996 released Lynda La Plante novel, Cold Blood.

Photo courtesy Booktopia

Despite the lack of information or progress in solving the case, her parents, the now-retired but enduringly glamourous, drug-addicted Hollywood actress, Elizabeth Caley and her real estate sales and property developer husband Robert, refuse to give up on being reunited with their much loved but spoilt daughter.

Elizabeth takes up a surprise and opportunistic referral by her assistant to engage former disgraced police officer, Lorraine Paige, now a Private Investigator, to take on the case. Having already spent thousands of dollars on other investigators with no result in being reunited with her daughter, Elizabeth decides to give Lorraine and her misfit team, including Rosie and Bob, just 2 weeks to find out what happened to her daughter. She throws in the additional incentive of paying them $1 million if they find Anna Louise, dead or alive.

Is Anna Louise's disappearance part of an inside job to murder her for her substantial inheritance, part of a complex drug ring, or a catty teenage girl's revenge?

As with all of her books, the charm of Lynda La Plante's stories lies in coming to know and understand her detectives. Sure, solving the cases are interesting but her policing characters are often flawed and it is their emotional and physical vulnerabilities and the rawness of their scars that make them intriguing.

Once again, Cold Blood follows this well worn literary path. Both lead characters Lorraine and Rosie are reforming alcoholics and you often get the feeling that it won't take much to tip them back to grabbing for another drink. As well as alcoholism, Lorraine is also coming to terms with the loss of her police career after being dismissed for shooting a young man and grieving the passing of her great love, a fellow police officer, who was shot while on duty.

Being set between Los Angeles and New Orleans in the United States is a different location for a La Plante novel, with most wandering through the back streets of a UK scene, either in London or a nearby country town, I did miss the usual banter among the police teams in their after-work meetings in a local English pub but the different setting is a pleasant variation for this crime novel.

By Frank Schneider (1881-1935), based on a (now lost?) painting by George Catlin. - Louisiana State Museum, New Orleans, Public Domain,

The book strongly references real-life figure Marie Catherine Laveau, a Louisiana Creole practitioner of Voodoo, herbalist and midwife who was renowned in New Orleans. Her daughter, Marie Laveau II, (1827c. 1862) also practised rootwork, conjure, Native American and African spiritualism as well as Louisiana Voodoo.

Cold Blood was released in 1996 by Simon and Schuster.
When it comes to murder and mystery, English born writer La Plante is a queen of this crime drama form and Cold Blood does not disappoint.
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Why? Crime story with a hint of voodoo
When: Anytime
Where: Anywhere
Cost: $16 - $22.00
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