Lynda La Plante on a Truly Inimitable Writer
Posted by: Keir Graff
Not content with her success as a writer and producer of popular British TV shows (Prime Suspect just for starters), Lynda La Plante started writing books, many of which have become international best-sellers. Her Anna Travis series has been consistently strong (see Silent Scream, 2010) and, though we won’t run our review of the next entry, Blind Fury, until our June 1 & 15 double issue, I can give you a sneak preview today: in a starred review, Emily Melton writes “This is vintage La Plante: the quintessential police procedural, with a flawed heroine and enough dark twists to keep even the seasoned mystery fan off balance.” We asked the seasoned mystery author to share the best book she’s read in the past year and she answered not by discussing a single book, but a canon.
I was recently offered to consider writing a novel based on the young Philip Marlowe. Before I could make any decision I read through the entire works of Raymond Chandler. I read his journals, his letters, and biographies. It took me the entire summer, but at the end of my marathon I was, if possible, even more of a fan. This man’s dialogue, his descriptions, his wit and turn of phrase kept me enthralled—quite simply, he is one of the best crime writers ever.
I launched into an attempt and, not copying his style but keeping in mind his short sentences, I completed three chapters. I had such doubt I could pull it off that I chose to contact one of Chandler’s biographers. I asked if he would spare me time to read what I was attempting to do. I said that if he felt I was far off the mark, I would give up. By this time I had allowed a few people to read the three beginning chapters and was getting a very good and positive response back. However, when the call came from the biographer to say he really felt that no one could or should ever attempt to write the proposed novel, I knew he was right. Raymond Chandler is a master crime writer. Reading all his works was a wonderful learning curve.
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