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Cold Blood


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One night during the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, 18-year-old Anna Louise Caley vanishes. Eleven months later, when all other efforts have failed, the girl's mother (aging film star Elizabeth Caley) hires an ex-cop and recovering alcoholic named Lorraine Page and offers her a $1 million bonus if she finds Anna Louise, dead or alive. The investigation leads Lorraine and her team into a world of drugs, booze, adultery, suicide, voodoo, and murder. These side plots are too loosely connected to the easily solved main mystery, and the transitions are jarring. Also, too much time is spent proving Elizabeth Caley's obvious drug addiction, tempting the reader to agree when the actress reminds Lorraine, "You are supposed to be investigating the disappearance of my daughter, not delving into my private life." Still, a respectable effort. La Plante (Entwined, LJ 5/15/93) and her heroine Lorraine are both talents worth watching. A good purchase for public library collections.‘Lori Dunn, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Troy, N.C.

If it was La Plante's intention to create a character far removed from her memorable Jane Tennison (of Prime Suspect fame), she has succeeded in this sequel to Cold Shoulder. Where the upright, ambitious Tennison was a refreshing original, Lorraine Page is at first glance a compendium of genre clichés: an ex-cop who left the force after killing a child and watching a beloved partner die; a recovering alcoholic who lost custody of her two daughters; a scarred woman who doubts her capacity to love. Yet, La Plante employs these stock character traits so skillfully that they don't blunt the power of her storytelling skills. Page now heads up a failing PI agency in L.A., aided by a perpetually dieting woman she met at an AA meeting and a still-boozing retired police captain. Just as the outfit is about to fold for lack of work, they luck into a case involving the disappearance of Anna Louise Calley. The daughter of a fading movie queen and a real estate tycoon, Anna Louise, 18, went missing in New Orleans almost a year earlier. Motivated by the promise of a million-dollar bonus if they find her alive or dead, Page and her crew stumble through L.A., and through New Orleans streets full of voodoo practitioners and drug dealers to the rich and famous, an underworld of glitzy sex clubs and devious billionaires with secret agendas. The mystery of what happened to Anna Louise is interesting, but the real suspense concerns whether Page‘who finds herself drinking again and in bed with the missing girl's father‘will fall apart. It takes a while for La Plante to individualize Page, but once she does, Cold Blood loosens up and flows freely. (Nov.)

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