Deadly Intent (Anna Travis Series #4)

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Overview

From award-winning author Lynda La Plante comes the latest detective story involving Anna Travis, who must juggle old and new love affairs while tracking down one of the world’s deadliest drug dealers.

Ruthless drug trafficker Alexander Fitzpatrick is one of the most wanted men in the Western hemisphere. But for ten years, there’s been no sign of him. Is he dead, or just trying to appear that way? When an ex-colleague from the murder squad is found shot in a dank drug den, Anna ...

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Overview

From award-winning author Lynda La Plante comes the latest detective story involving Anna Travis, who must juggle old and new love affairs while tracking down one of the world’s deadliest drug dealers.

Ruthless drug trafficker Alexander Fitzpatrick is one of the most wanted men in the Western hemisphere. But for ten years, there’s been no sign of him. Is he dead, or just trying to appear that way? When an ex-colleague from the murder squad is found shot in a dank drug den, Anna Travis is pulled into the case. She’s grateful for the distraction after her breakup with DCI Langton, and soon finds herself involved with someone new.

But as the bodies pile up and the mystery deepens, Travis and Langton must put aside their personal history and work together to track down one of the shrewdest criminals they’ve ever encountered.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

At the start of La Plante's excellent fourth crime drama to feature London Det. Insp. Anna Travis (after 2008's Clean Cut), wanted drug kingpin Alexander Fitzpatrick returns home to England after plastic surgery in Mexico, desperate to collect funds that Julia Kendal, his recently married ex-partner in the drug smuggling business, has squirreled away. When Julia's new husband, a former cop who was also acting as her bodyguard, is shot to death at a seedy Chalk Farm drug squat, Anna discovers an unexpected link between Julia and Anthony Collingwood, a Fitzpatrick alias. More bodies of Fitzpatrick's former associates pile up, including some poisoned with an overdose of Fentanyl, an illegal opiate with which Fitzpatrick plans to flood the U.K. market. Supt. Jimmy Langton, Anna's tetchy ex-lover and former superior, who's dismayed to notice she's dangerously attracted to a professor connected to the elusive Fitzpatrick, retains his enigmatic appeal. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
The killing of an ex-cop in a drug squat sends DI Anna Travis searching for the most wanted dealer in England. Frank Brandon had led quite a life since his days on the Job. He was working as a chauffeur for midlevel drug supplier Donny Petrozzo when he caught the eye of wealthy, beautiful Julia Kendal, who'd married him and evidently made him a happy man. So what was he doing in the flat in squalid Warren Estate where he was shot dead? Anna's preliminary inquiries convince her that his death involves Julia's shadowy former partner Anthony Collingwood, ne Alexander Fitzpatrick, who dropped out of sight years ago after leaving her with two children and a sizable fortune. But DCI Carol Cunningham, head of Anna's Murder Squad, is far from convinced. So Anna begins to ask questions on her own, with eminently predictable results: enough progress to keep the pot simmering, but not enough to lead to her quarry or mollify her superiors, including her ex-lover DCS James Langton (Clean Cut, 2007, etc.). Behind the series of violent deaths that propel the investigation, Anna sees a disturbing pattern: Fitzpatrick's scheme to flood the U.K. with Fentanyl, a painkiller as deadly as it is powerful. The criminal conspiracy is menacing, even monstrous, but no more interesting than the authentically tedious interrogations.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416588313
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 7/7/2009
  • Series: Anna Travis Series , #4
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 431,672
  • Product dimensions: 5.28 (w) x 7.92 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynda La Plante is the author of many bestselling novels, including the Prime Suspect series. On Saturday, June 14, 2008, she was awarded the CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honors List in recognition of her services to Literature, Drama and to Charity. She runs her own television production company and lives in London and Easthampton, New York.

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Read an Excerpt

1

Monterrey, Mexico, is not to be confused with Monterey, California. This Monterrey is a border town whose main industry and source of employment is a massive tile factory. Monterrey is where Dr. Manuel Mendosa has his small surgical clinic. His father had also been a surgeon, attached to the American army in Vietnam. He always maintained that his finest work had been done during the war, as he was able to finesse his reconstructive surgical abilities on the burned and disfigured soldiers. His only son, Manuel, followed in his footsteps and became a qualified plastic surgeon. He had, under his father's watchful eye, opened a practice in Mexico City. After his father's death, Manuel had become addicted to drugs and sunk into debt. Accused of malpractice, he had gone into hiding. Manuel had then been coerced into operating on a known felon, altering the man's features to enable him to escape imprisonment.

Now, known in the underworld for his prowess, he was forced into performing many similar surgical operations. He was paid highly for his skill and silence, but he was nevertheless trapped and in constant fear for his life, should he ever refuse a request.

When Manuel received a call from a Mr. Smith, he knew this was yet another "operation" requiring his skill as a surgeon. He knew too that his life would depend upon his silence.

Mr. Smith was not American but English, and his arrival at the clinic, although expected, was met with trepidation. The patient was so tall he had to stoop to enter the small reception room. He was well dressed in a cream-colored suit and a white T-shirt. He carried a thin leather briefcase.

If Manuel felt trepidation; so did his new client. Miles from anywhere in the border town, he had arranged the meeting on word of mouth, hearing that Manuel was a genius. He had not expected to confront one of the most handsome men he had ever seen. Manuel was slender with beautiful artistic hands, dark hair swept back from a high forehead, every feature of his face chiseled, teeth white and gleaming. His pale blue cotton shirt with its priest collar, almost like a surgeon's short gown, was obviously handmade. The color made his wide, clear eyes even bluer, like azure.

He was sitting expectantly as Mr. Smith entered.

"Good morning," the Englishman said.

"You needed to see me?" Manuel said quietly, in fluent English.

"Yes. That is correct."

"You were recommended?"

"Yes. By..."

The Englishman said two names that sent chills down Manuel's stiff spine. He knew who they were — men he could not refuse.

"I will pay you in dollars."

Manuel nodded and watched as the big man sat uncomfortably on one of the hard chairs in the reception area. He had no receptionist and no nurses. Only one person assisted him in his operations — an elderly Mexican, Enrico, who had worked alongside his father.

"I will need to take some particulars and discuss exactly what is required."

"Obviously."

Manuel liked his deep resonant voice, the way he appeared respectful. And yet there was a domineering confidence about him.

"Firstly, may I ask your age?"

"Sixty."

Manuel leaned forward and picked up a clipboard from the coffee table.

"Do you suffer from high blood pressure?"

"Slightly."

"Have you had any recent operations?"

"No."

"Do you have any heart problems?"

"No."

"Do you have any allergies?"

"No."

"No allergic reactions to antibiotics?"

"None."

Manuel used a slim silver pen to write on his clipboard.

"Have you any blood disorders?"

"No."

"Do you have transport?"

"Yes."

"Somewhere to recover after surgery?"

"Yes."

Manuel replaced the board onto the coffee table.

"Now I need to discuss the exact surgical requirements and modifications you would like me to achieve."

Mr. Smith had started to sweat in the overheated reception; it was eighty degrees outside and there was no air-conditioning in the room. Compared to Manuel, he felt overweight and clumsy.

"I need to look younger."

Manuel nodded, watching as Mr. Smith removed from his pocket a large envelope. He took out a thin folded piece of paper.

"Let me start with the liposuction. I want you to remove the excess fat from my stomach, armpits, and chest area, and I want my buttocks lifted, so they are tighter and stronger. I'll leave it up to you whether implants are required."

Manuel nodded. That part of the procedure was simple.

"I will also want my hands looked at, get rid of the age spots, get my fingerprints lasered."

Manuel nodded and then leaned forward to pick up his clipboard again. He turned over the top page and started jotting down notes.

"How tall are you?" he asked.

"Six feet three and a half."

"Your weight?"

"Nineteen and a half stone."

Manuel tapped the silver pen against his perfect teeth as he calculated what the weight was in kilos. Mr. Smith watched him, struck again by his handsomeness. He wondered if he was homosexual. Manuel wore no wedding ring, no jewelry of any kind, not even a wristwatch, and he seemed to remain cool, not perspiring at all in the oppressive heat.

"You want me to continue?"

"Yes."

"Right. I want a new face. Nose, cheek implants, maybe even a little chin enhancement, and I want the mole on my right cheek removed."

Manuel looked up and stared hard as Mr. Smith concentrated on the notepaper. He could see there were some drawings on it. Mr. Smith was showing his age. His gray hair, worn in a ponytail, was thinning, he had a hooked nose. His face had slight jowls and was heavily lined, as if he had spent many years in the sun. His lips were thin and his teeth stained yellowish from smoking. His eyes were dark brown and lined at the corners with hooded lids. Yet he was still what one would describe as handsome — or had been at one time.

"May I see that?" Manuel asked, with his hand outstretched.

Mr. Smith passed over the single sheet of paper. Manuel studied it for a considerable time. There were a number of drawings and indications of what plastic surgery was wanted.

"This is very extensive and invasive surgery, Mr. Smith."

"I'm aware of that."

"When do you want to begin?"

"After this meeting."

Manuel continued making his own notes. It was just after ten o'clock in the morning.

"I also want it all done in one session."

"That will be impossible. The liposuction alone will take considerable time and it will be painful, requiring a few days to settle before the bandages can be removed. You will also need to wear elastic surgical bandages to maintain the tightness of the skin."

"Yes, I know."

"So may I suggest we start with the less invasive surgery and then judge how soon you would be fit enough to begin everything else?"

"No. I want everything done as soon as possible. I've brought with me the required amount of Fentanyl in preference to any other anesthetic. Are you familiar with this type of — "

Manuel interrupted him. "I'm aware of the use of Fentanyl for emergency surgery and that it is now quite commonly used in many hospitals as a fast means of pain blockage. I know how quickly, unlike most anesthetics, it leaves the system. But it's a very potent opiate that can create respiratory depression if oversubscribed. It can be used as an intravenous anesthetic, but I've never employed it."

"I will determine how much I need."

"That is a great risk, Mr. Smith, and one I am not prepared to take. You will require a general anesthetic, but it is up to you if you wish to use the Fentanyl as a means of pain relief."

Manuel put his silver pen back into the breast pocket of his shirt. He hoped his request for a general anesthetic would make his client change his mind. It didn't.

"Very well. If that's what you advise."

"Have you eaten anything today?"

"No, not since midnight."

Manuel leaned over to a pocket built into the side of the chair. "I will need to call my assistant," he said.

Mr. Smith noticed for the first time that Manuel was sitting in a wheelchair and it freaked him.

"Is that a wheelchair?"

Manuel glanced toward him as he dialed. "One of my own designs — very light and battery-controlled."

"You're a cripple?"

Manuel gave a strange half smile. "Does it worry you? I do not operate with my feet, but if it concerns you..."

"What's the matter with you?"

Manuel had dialed a number on his mobile phone, but he didn't connect the call.

"I was addicted to crack cocaine. My spine was injured in a fall."

"Are you still an addict?"

"I will be for the rest of my life, but I am no longer a user. I've been clean for four years." He held the phone up. "Have you changed your mind?"

Mr. Smith hesitated and then gave a curt shake of his head.

"Make the call," he said.

Manuel wished he had walked out, but his client was obviously satisfied, so he called Enrico to come to the surgery.

In contrast to the reception room, the adjoining operating theater was cold. Mr. Smith felt every hair on his body tingle. He was instructed to use a small shower room to scrub his body clean with the disinfectant provided.

Then Manuel introduced Enrico, who led Mr. Smith to the table. He had already prepared a row of needles and the vials of Fentanyl. He checked the client's heart rate and blood pressure, which he noted was high — 180 over 120. He prepared a vein catheter for Mr. Smith's right hand and found a vein easily, attaching it for the anesthetic to be given. An aspirator machine stood ready for the liposuction; large packs of gauze and two big bottles of Xylocaine and adrenaline, plus dark bottles of iodine were at hand. Different rubber tubes were ready to connect to the cannula tubes, to attach to the liposuction machine. Next, Enrico opened Mr. Smith's gown and, using a paintbrush, painted three quadrants, center of his stomach and to both sides.

He checked that there was an oxygen mask ready and a resuscitation machine in full working order. He attached a small clip onto Mr. Smith's index finger, which led to a machine to enable them to read the heartbeat. All of this was completed in total silence.

Enrico then went to assist Manuel to scrub up in a large sink. Manuel let him scrub both his hands with alcohol gel and wheel him to the trolley so he could open the paper-wrapped gloves.

"Do you wish to inject yourself?" Manuel asked his client. It took a while for Mr. Smith to measure the exact amount before clenching his left fist and then watching as Enrico adeptly found a strong vein and injected him. It was very fast; Mr. Smith just had time to lie back before he felt the warmth spreading throughout his body.

"You can get started," he said, his voice slurred.

He eventually became used to the hideous sound of the suction pump working. The incisions for the cannula tubes pressed deeply and painfully into the fat. Enrico used his foot to keep the pump working as the fat drained into two big vats. It took three and a half hours. At one point Manuel was concerned: Mr. Smith's pulse rate was at ninety-eight. He used the oxygen mask and waited for the pulse to return to normal.

Manuel worked quickly, inserting the tubes and pumping out the fatty tissue. For him, it was a tedious, long-drawn-out procedure. He sat making drawings for the facial work he was asked to complete. Twice during the liposuction Enrico gestured for Manuel to double-check their patient; he also needed his help to turn the big man over to take the fat from his buttocks. Manuel, for all his incapacity, was very strong in the upper part of his body, and together they had been able to move him.

One of the most strenuous parts of the suction process was drawing on the tight elastic bandages to make sure the body parts, where the fat had been removed, were held in place. The gauze was wrapped around first, then the bandages, then an elastic corset eased over the belly and chest. In truth, the wrapping this time was perhaps too tight, but Mr. Smith was a very big man and Manuel reckoned he was so macho, he would be able to deal with the constrictions and the painful bruising he was going to feel. They had removed an astonishing two and half liters of body fat. The next process was to tighten his buttocks. A banana-shaped incision was to be made across each cheek. Manuel calculated that he would spend at least an hour and a half on each, due to the number of internal stitches required layer by layer. The first general anesthetic was administered.

Whatever pain he felt, three hours later Mr. Smith sat up asking for water. He drank thirstily before resting back and closing his eyes. His entire body felt as if it had been run over by a ten-ton truck. The pain was making his head throb; it was excruciating and he could find no comfort, even lying on his side.

"How long do you need before you work on my face?" he asked hoarsely.

Manuel leaned close to him, checking his pulse.

"I really cannot begin any more surgery. I suggest you rest for two days. Then we will be able to remove these bandages so you will be more comfortable."

"I don't have that amount of time. I want it done today."

"I have to refuse. Your blood pressure was very high and you will need to have a second general anesthetic. It will be impossible to operate using only Fentanyl."

"You get another ten thousand dollars if you continue."

"It is too much of a risk. The work will take at the very least three hours. I have to virtually lift your entire face off and — "

"Just do it."

"I advise you to rest at least for tonight and return tomorrow."

"Do it!" the man hissed. He needed to be awake, to make sure he did not overdose on the Fentanyl. He trusted no one but himself to measure it. The pain dulled by the Fentanyl, he closed his eyes.

Enrico was silent, as usual, as he cleaned up and removed the bloody gauze pads. He was surprised when Manuel asked if he could remain all night at the surgery. He gave a small nod of his head and continued clearing up.

When Manuel returned to the table, Mr. Smith was already lying motionless, his eyes closed.

"He is mad," Enrico whispered.

"For Jesus' sake, don't let him die on us. And make me some strong black coffee." Manuel raised his electric wheelchair to its maximum height. He would now be able to work from above the sleeping man's head and move easily around to the left and right of the table.

Using a black marker pen to draw the lines on Mr. Smith's face where he wished to cut, Manuel lifted both eyebrows up and took a section from the brow. He marked the upper and lower lids and made a line around both ears for an auricular incision. He then marked the lips to augment with silicone and put dotted marks between the eyes for Botox.

As he worked, he drank two small cups of thick black coffee, with heaped spoonfuls of sugar. His patient remained oblivious, eyes closed and sleeping.

Enrico prepared the prosthetic implants for the cheeks and chin, and when Manuel was ready, he administered the second general anesthetic. It was, by now, almost six o'clock and cooler outside, but as always Manuel maintained a very low temperature in the operating room. They both went through the same procedure of scrubbing up, and now that the anesthetic had kicked in, work began.

The first incision was to the eyebrows. Manuel removed a slice, like a small section of orange, drawing the skin upward, and stretching out the lines in the forehead. This took a lot of pulling and stretching before he was satisfied. Then he cut a long line from behind the ear, continuing down to the chin. He drew up the scraggy skin of the neck, again removing a slice like another section of orange, so he could restitch and pull tightly back toward the lobes of the ears. He also implanted a small section of what looked and almost felt like a sponge. He inserted a piece into the lower chin, then used a thin flattening spatula to ease up two more sections to rest over each of the cheekbones, working with the finest suture scissors. He removed the mole from Mr. Smith's right cheek and gave two neat stitches, before he began work on his nose.

Twice, Manuel became concerned as his patient's pulse shot up; his heart rate was worrying too and it was a while before he felt he could continue. Enrico gave Mr. Smith more oxygen until they were both satisfied that his pulse rate was not life-threatening.

The bridge of the nose had a scar; his nose must have been broken at one time. Manuel broke it again and began reshaping and cutting around the nostrils. He was tired; it had been concentrated work and Enrico kept wiping his brow with an iced cloth.

"Only eyelids to go now," he murmured.

The two men worked well together, Manuel checking his drawings and the ink markings he had made to Mr. Smith's face. He didn't want to take too much from the eyelids, and as he was doing both top and bottom, it was imperative he took only his exact measurements. He couldn't remove the age lines from around the eyes completely, nor the two lines from the nostrils down to the lips, known as puppet lines. These he injected with Botox and collagen, and then at last it was down to the bandages.

Mr. Smith did not regain consciousness until his head was tightly bandaged. He resembled something out of an old-fashioned horror movie. Only his puffy, bloodshot eyes and his swollen lips could be seen. He could not dress himself, as his hands had been operated on and laser treatment carried out on his fingertips. Enrico had to ease him into an old wheelchair to take him out into the reception.

Mr. Smith was hardly holding it together due to the waves of pain that swept over his entire body. There seemed not an inch of him that didn't scream out. He said hardly a word as Enrico wheeled him out into the early evening sun; he had been in surgery for over ten hours. A white, four-door Mercedes with tinted windows was parked outside. The driver had been waiting all day; his face was sweaty and his cheap black suit wrinkled and creased. His dark greasy hair was combed back and hung in a wave at his collar.

Enrico and the driver helped Mr. Smith into the backseat. He let out soft moans of pain, but he didn't speak, just lay on his side, his legs curled up.

Manuel watched the Mercedes drawing away. He had learned over the years never to ask questions or get into even the briefest conversation with the drivers. It would be two days before he could check on the liposuction treatment and a further five days to examine and remove stitches. It would therefore be seven days before he was paid.

"Mr. Smith" was hurried through the lobby of the Santa Cruz Hotel in the wheelchair. He was occupying the so-called penthouse suite. He found it difficult to even sit on the bed and he hadn't the strength to take off his clothes. He finally managed to ease himself down, thankful for the soft pillows.

The driver left the hotel with instructions to collect him in seven days.

Mr. Smith remained lying on the bed for twenty-four hours, before he managed to undress. Beside the bed were an array of bottles of water, vitamins and antibiotics, and a large amount of arnica tablets. He consumed them in handfuls, as they helped the bruising, but ate nothing else, just drank bottle after bottle of the water and only moved to go to the bathroom. He was in constant pain and found it difficult to find a single position to lie in that didn't make him feel as if his body was on fire. Not only did the elastic bandages around his body feel too tight, but the dressings on his scalp and face were so uncomfortable that he found it difficult to breathe. His head throbbed. The discomfort didn't ease for forty-eight hours and he had, once again, injected himself with Fentanyl.

Manuel and Enrico entered the hotel suite to find Mr. Smith lying on the bed with a towel wrapped loosely around him. Manuel watched as Enrico removed the wrappings from his body. The bandages were very bloody, as there had been some leakage. The torso was black from the bruises and yet the small incisions made for the tubes were healing well. Manuel placed small strips of Elastoplast over the incisions and then waited as Enrico cleaned up the bloody bandages and gauze. He unwrapped the bandages from around Mr. Smith's head, checked his stitches were healing, and instructed Enrico to rebandage.

"You are healing very well, Mr. Smith."

"My arse feels like I got some rabid animal chewing on it!"

Neither Manuel nor Enrico showed they were amused; they left as quickly as possible.

On the fourth day, Mr. Smith got up and walked around the suite. It was painful but he forced himself to move. He still did not eat but sent down for more water, lemons, and honey, and continued to use his Fentanyl stash to give him relief and help him sleep.

By day seven he was feeling stronger. Fully dressed, he walked down through the hotel reception to meet his driver.

Manuel was waiting at the surgery. He could see that his patient was making a remarkable recovery and could walk unaided from the car. They went straight into the operating room; Enrico had already prepared a tray with disinfectant swabs and needle-sharp scissors. There were still extensive black bruises almost covering the patient's entire torso. However, the small incisions were healing well, and Enrico cleaned them and replaced the small round plasters. Manuel then asked his client to sit in a chair beneath a strong lamp, and he personally unwound the head bandages. The fine, delicate stitches were snipped one by one and Mr. Smith could hear a faint sound as each was placed into a stainless-steel bowl. Once the last area of plaster across the nose had been removed, Manuel leaned close to inspect his work.

"Good, very good."

Mr. Smith examined himself in a mirror. His face was puffy and the scars were still red, but none were infected, and within hours the narrow bridge of his nose would broaden. His thinning hair was dirty and the ponytail was caked in blood. He had not had a total browlift because of his receding hair; hair plugs would have made the skin too stretched and raw.

"How soon can I get plugs done for a hairline?" he asked Manuel.

"In a couple of weeks, I would suggest."

"What about the teeth? I can begin a series of dental implants, can't I?"

"Yes, of course."

Manuel was astonished that his patient gave no reaction to his finished work. It was, even by his standards, a superb transformation. The man hardly resembled himself, yet he seemed intent only on leaving as quickly as possible. Manuel was paid twenty-five thousand dollars in used notes, packed into a large brown envelope. Smiling, Mr. Smith passed over a second envelope containing the extra ten thousand dollars.

Manuel placed the money into the pocket of his wheelchair without counting it. Then Mr. Smith surprised him. He was about to click shut the briefcase when he hesitated and removed a small square box which he passed over to Manuel.

"A little extra gift," he said. "Enjoy..."

He strolled out, albeit stiffly because the liposuction still made it uncomfortable to walk. His suit hung as if too large and he placed a cream cotton cap on his head to cover his scalp and donned a pair of dark sunglasses.

Back in his hotel room, Mr. Smith spent almost an hour staring at his reflection in the dressing-table mirror. It was an amazing transformation: his chin and neck were taut and the cheek implants made his face look chiseled. His lips were still puffy but his nose was looking much better. Before, he had had an aquiline, almost hooked nose; now it was small but perfectly straight.

After a much-needed shower, he looked again at his reflection. Gone was the beginning of a paunch and he had regained a muscular slenderness. In fact, he had dropped at least fifteen years; by the time he had his hair transplants and new teeth, he reckoned he would look no more than late forties or early fifties.

Enrico had returned home to his family. As ever, Manuel had been very generous, but he was concerned. The box had contained four vials of Fentanyl, and when he had tried to take it, Manuel had snapped at him to leave it in the fridge. Fentanyl was unobtainable in Mexico and he feared that the young man, although clean for four years, might be tempted.

Mr. Smith flew to Los Angeles and from there on to Brazil for the rest of his makeover. Although he was still feeling some twinges of pain, the worst of it was over. He did as Manuel instructed and waited another six weeks before he had a full transplant of hair, not gray, but dark brown, combed back from his forehead and cut into a shorter style. Now it was just below his collar, exactly as Manuel had worn his.

Lastly, he had a three-week session with a dental surgeon who implanted six back teeth and gave him what they termed in Hollywood "the smile" makeover. By this time he had begun to work out, not too strenuously, but he wanted to retain his slenderness.

The entire "operation" had taken almost three months and he was finally ready to return to England. Money was running out and he was about to make one of the biggest deals of his life. His luxurious life had been disrupted by a disastrous turn of events in the German and American money markets, leaving him on the verge of bankruptcy. Never one to dwell on misfortune, however, he was certain that he could — and would — once again return to the lifestyle he had grown accustomed to. With his new image, he was confident that he could remain undetected until his deals had been organized.

Leaving Brazil, he flew to Spain to arrange finances for a boat he had ordered to be brought into Puerto Banus. Money by now was a major problem; he had to get financed and fast, and it had to be cash. But he remained assured that he would be able to accomplish his deal.

However, dealing with drug cartels from Colombia, he could not afford to make any mistakes.

One mistake would obviously have been his connection to Manuel, but as a man who had been around drugs and addicts for many years, he was sure that temptation would rid him of any risk from that quarter. He was correct. Enrico, not having heard from Manuel for over a week, went to the clinic. He knew by the accumulation of black flies in the overheated reception room that what he had feared had happened.

Due to the low temperature in the operating theater, Manuel's body was not too decomposed. The still-handsome man sat in his chair, his dead eyes staring, as if at the open box of Fentanyl resting on his lap. He had used only one vial but that had been more than enough to stop his heart.

Mr. Smith made arrangements to return to England. He doubted that he would have problems entering the UK and he was looking forward to "going home" once more. He was also confident that, using one or other of his many passports, he would not be recognized, even by his own mother.

Copyright © 2008 by Lynda La Plante

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Reading Group Guide

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. The book begins with a scene that reveals the murderer to the reader. As the book progresses, the reader has more knowledge of the crime than the detectives have access to. Why do you think the author chose to structure the story in this way as opposed to giving the reader the same perspective that was given to the detectives?

2. DCI Cunningham is very critical of Anna when they first meet. Why does she judge Anna so harshly? Does her opinion of Anna ever change?

3. "After all these months, he still had a stranglehold over her emotions. She knew that she was still in love with him, no matter what he had done" (page 156). This passage describes how Anna feels when she first sees Langton after their breakup. How do these feelings change as the book progresses?

4. Compare Anna's feelings for Langton with her feelings for Pete. How are the two men different? Do they have any similarities?

5. Anna learns a great deal about detective work from DCI Langton and adopts his mantra that there is no such thing as a coincidence. How does this belief help her in solving the case?

6. What clues led Anna to believe that Alexander Fitzpatrick is back in the UK? Why is she the only one who thinks this is possible?

7. Despite Anna's admiration for Langton's detective work, she interrogates witnesses very differently than he does. Compare her interrogation techniques with those of Langton. Turn to page 341 for one example.

8. Langton frequently lectures Anna about the dangers of making suppositions. When he takes over the investigation, does he heed his own advice?

9. Anna repeatedly goes off on her own to do detective work, despitewarnings from Langton and Cunningham. Do you think she is right to do so? Why or why not?

10. Who do you think killed Julia Brandon? Was she indeed on her way to Fitzpatrick's boat when she died?

11. "I think we've got Fitzpatrick cornered. Now we bring in Honour and Damien Nolan" (page 517). Why does Langton wait so long before deciding to bring in the Nolans, despite the earlier recommendations of Travis and Cunningham? Do you think he was correct in choosing to wait?

12. Did you have faith that the detectives would catch the killer? Why or why not?

13. Should Anna have allowed Langton to endanger the children near the book's end or was she right to step in? Did she deserve the punishment she received on account of her insubordination?

Tips to Enhance Your Book Club

Watch an episode of Prime Suspect, the television series that La Plante is most well known for writing, starring Helen Mirren. The show was broadcast on PBS as part of Masterpiece Theatre and is now available on DVD via services such as Netflix.

Find a point midway through the book to meet with your group and guess how the book's events will pan out. Will they capture the killer(s)? Will Travis and Langton get back together? How many more people will be found murdered? Write down your predictions so you can come back to them once you've finished reading.

Find out more about the author's production company, La Plante Productions, by visiting its website at www.laplanteproductions.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The latest Travis British police procedural is an excellent investigative tale

    Frank Brandon left the murder squad unit to become a chauffeur for a minor drug dealer before marrying wealthy Julia Kendal. He was allegedly happy and had money to waste; so had no reason to be found murdered in a fetid dumpy flat in slummy Warren Estate.

    Murder Squad Detective Inspector Anna Travis fears Brandon's homicide means the return from the dead of her former partner Anthony Collingwood, who left her without warning with two kids and a lot of money almost a decade ago. Anthony is better known as Alexander Fitzpatrick, once the nation's leading drug kingpin, but out of sight for years. In spite of other associates of Fitzpatrick being assassinated, Anna's superior DCI Carol Cunningham disagrees as no proof has surfaced that the former criminal mastermind is alive. Unbeknownst to the cops including Anna's worried about her former lover DCS James Langton, Fitzpatrick had major facial surgery in Mexico and has come home to flood the country with the deadly painkiller Fentanyl.

    The latest Travis British police procedural (see ABOVE SUSPICION, CLEAN CUT and THE RED DAHLIA) is an excellent investigative tale that hooks the audience with the inquiry as much as the intriguing look back at the heroine's past. The story line is fast-paced even with a vividly detailed investigation as the prime cast makes this a top rate thriller. In a way the relationships between Anna and the two main men in her past, Anthony and James, make for a super triangle that enhances a strong mystery.

    Harriet Klausner

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