Good Reading : November 2006
NOVEMBER 2006 ı goodreading 17 cover story done.The body of Louise Pennel is discovered on the riverbank at Richmond; her naked torso has been severed in two at the waist. The gruesome details of how she’d been tortured and murdered are identical in every respect, according to La Plante, to those in the Black Dahlia case. DI Anna Travis is sickened by them, and in a moment of drunken intimacy with a new boyfriend who also happens to be a tabloid journalist she reveals the worst of them. The subsequent splashing of classified police information across the weekend headlines doesn’t bode well for Anna’s future with the force, but she does manage to ride this potential disaster out. I won’t reveal any more of the plot here, except to say that anyone who’s ever read a La Plante knows that her books aren’t whodunnits. The emphasis is always on how do we nail this bastard rather than who is this bastard. There’s never any doubt about the identity of the killer, but the diffi- culty the police face is that of gathering sufficient damning evidence rather than simply circumstantial evidence. It’s a dilemma that bothers La Plante. ‘You can have appalling evidence, but you say, wait a minute, it isn’t actually proved. This is why you see criminals appealing and appealing and appealing against a murder sentence.The system fails. One of the biggest things that I fight for all the time is this: victims of crime are never really cared for as much as the criminals.’ She cites the notori- ous Moors Murders case, in which Myra Hindley assisted her boyfriend Ian Brady to torture and kill five children. ‘Hindley was given therapy, she trained as a psychologist, she had outings,’ says La Plante bitterly. ‘And yet the victims [the families of the murdered youngsters] remained in the same pain trap – nobody ever gave them therapy, nobody ever gave them enough help to get a psychology degree.Victims need as much after-care after a trial as these prisoners … And the awful thing is, life is not life. Fourteen years. And often they’re out in twelve! So in a way, there’s some- thing inside me that is still hedging towards capital punishment.’ What the profiler said about copycat killers bothers her, too. ‘But I don’t think you can live your life by that; say, if I write something, there’s going to be one person somewhere who’s going to say, I’ll do that. Every time the police have asked me, either in my TV drama or films, to withdraw something, I always have.’ The fact that there’s a new film out of James Ellroy’s book about the Black Dahlia is purely coincidental. La Plante hasn’t seen the film yet, but notes that it’s had some pretty appalling reviews. ‘Strangely enough,’ she says, ‘one of the actors in it, Fiona Shaw, is just star ring in a “Trial and Retribution” for me, as a barrister.’ And is a film adaptation of Above Suspicion on the way? ‘Well, we’re waiting for Clive Owen really, to play the cop! But he gets more and more famous. So we’ll wait and see.’ In the meantime, the first draft of the third Anna Travis book is already written. According to La Plante, it’s very emotional, ‘a real tear-jerker’. Which bodes ill for the dormant relationship between Travis and Langton. I end our conversation on a personal note.When I last spoke to La Plante in 2004, she had just adopted a baby boy but was still reeling from the vilification she received as a result in the British press.That a single woman in late middle age had had the temerity to adopt a child incensed some people in the media, who ignored the fact that La Plante is well set-up, of good character, and obviously adored her child. La Plante was so upset that she contemplated moving to the States (where she spends each summer) permanently. So I ask her what’s become of this plan. Happily, e seems content now to leave things the way they are; bviously, the press has backed off and left her alone to joy life with Lorcan William Henry, now aged three. e is the light of my life,’ she sighs contentedly. ‘He is most adorable child. But this year has been very sad for me because I lost my mother. I had a huge standard poodle called Minnie the Moocher, and she went too. I tried to explain to Lorcan that Minnie had gone with Grandma to a very happy place. And he said, “Oh! They’re in a theme park!” I’m very for- tunate because I have my young nephew living with me; he’s studying child psychology, which is a great help managing Lorcan! Lorcan has given me a fulfilment I never thought I’d have in life.’ So Lynda La Plante’s life so far, like her latest book, has a very satisfying conclusion. The Red Dahlia is published this month by Simon & Schuster, rrp $29.95. This month 15 lucky winners could win a copy of The Red Dahlia by Lynda La Plante, valued at $29.95 each. To enter simply write your details on the back of an envelope and mail to ‘The Red Dahlia Competition’, GPO Box 3835 Sydney NSW 2001 or enter online at www.goodreadingmagazine.com TERMS AND CONDITIONS 1.Information on how to enter forms part of the terms and conditions of entry.2.Entry is open to all residents of Australia and New Zealand who are readers ofGood Reading magazine. Entries must be made between 1/11/06 and 30/11/06 and be sent to Good Reading Magazine, GPO Box 3835, Sydney NSW 2001. Employees and their immediate families of the promoter and agencies associated with this promotion are ineligible. 3.The judge’s decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into. Prizes are not transferable and cannot be taken as cash. Any change in the value of the prize occurring between 01/8/06 and the date the prizes are claimed is not the responsibility of the promoter and any difference in prize value will be the responsibility of the winner. The total prize mentioned is the recommended retail value as provided by the supplier and is correct at the time of printing. Prizes will be provided by Simon & Schuster Australia. 4. The first 15 valid entries drawn will each win a copy ofThe Red Dahlia, valued at $29.95 each. The total prize value is $449.25. 5.The draw will take place at no. 9 Stephen St Balmain NSW 2041 at 11 am on 1/12/06. The winners will be notified by mail and their names will be published in the February issue ofGood Reading magazine on 31/1/07. 6.The promoter shall not be liable for any loss or damage whatsoever that is suffered or for any personal injury suffered or sustained in connection with the prizes. 7.The promoter accepts no responsibility for late, lost or misdirected mail. 8.The promoter may conduct such further draws at the same place as the original draw as are necessary on 24/3/07 in order to distribute the prize if it remains unclaimed by that date, subject to any written directions given under Reg 37 of the Lottery and Gaming Regulations 1993 (S.A.). 9.All entries become the property of the promoter. 10.The promoter is Good Reading Magazine Pty Ltd of 9 Stephen St Balmain NSW 2041 ABN 38 003 750 150 NSW Permit no. TPL06/11599 ACT Permit no. TP06/04240 Win! The body of Louise Pennel is discovered on the riverbank; her naked torso has been severed in two. The grue- some details of how she’d been murdered are identical to those in the Black Dahlia case.
December / January 2007