‘Everything a great book should be… Twists and turns with a really unexpected ending’
Deadly Intent (2008)
Alexander Fitzpatrick is one of the most wanted men in the Western world.
A Howard Marks character, but far more dangerous, his wealth, accrued through drug-trafficking, runs into millions. For the past ten years there has been no sighting of him. Has he gone to ground using an alias, or is he dead?
When an ex-police officer from the murder squad is found shot in a dank squat, Anna Travis is pulled onto the case.
As the body count rises and the investigation becomes ever more complex, suspicion falls on Fitzpatrick.
Is he still alive and in the UK? Could he be the killer, with terrifying access to the most lethal drug in existence?
Reading Group Info
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. Why do you think the author chose to structure the story in this way, as opposed to giving the reader the same perspective as that of 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, despite warnings from Langton and Cunningham. Do you think she is right to do so? Why?
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?
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 starring Helen Mirren, for which La Plante is best known for writing. The show was broadcast on PBS as part of Masterpiece Theatre and is now available online 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.
Lynda talks about the 4th novel in the Travis series