- Lynda La Plante.
- 448 pages.
- Crime / Thriller / Police Procedural.
DC Jack Warr and his girlfriend Maggie have just moved to London to start a new life together. Though charming, Jack can’t seem to find his place in the world – until he’s drawn into an investigation that turns his life upside down.
In the aftermath of a fire at an isolated cottage, a badly charred body is discovered, along with the burnt remains of millions of stolen, untraceable bank notes.
Jack’s search leads him deep into a murky criminal underworld – a world he finds himself surprisingly good at navigating. But as the line of the law becomes blurred, how far will Jack go to find the answers – and what will it cost him?
In BURIED, it’s time to meet DC Jack Warr as he digs up the deadly secrets of the past . . .
Rose Cottage, Aylesbury was the former home of the deceased mounted police officer Norma Walker. Now abandoned, a fire destroys the isolated cottage, and in the remains of the building, a body is found. A large quantity of charred paper is also found in the cottage hearth. The stacks of paper are almost all burnt beyond recognition except for one small scrap of paper, a single scrap that has been caressed by the flames rather than consumed. The scrap is identified as an old five-pound note that is no longer legal tender, and there are over one-and-a-half million pounds of burnt money in the hearth.
The money is linked to a twenty-four-year-old case. In 1995, a mail train was robbed by an armed gang, and twenty-seven million pounds was stolen. It is the biggest train robbery in UK history. The gang of thieves were never caught, no arrests were ever made, and the money was never found.
At the time of the robbery, The Grange, a manor near Rose Cottage, was owned by Dolly Rawlins, wife of the deceased and notorious 1980s gangster Harry Rawlins. After her release from prison, Dolly purchased The Grange from Ester Freeman who had briefly been in the same cell block as her, and who had previously used the property as a brothel. Dolly hoped to turn The Grange into a children’s home, and she lived there along with Ester and a group of female ex-convicts. All the women of The Grange had criminal backgrounds, and Dolly links to organised crime. The Grange was searched during the original investigation into the train robbery, nothing was found, and they were dismissed from having anything to do with the robbery.
Led by DCI Ridley, the team of DC Jack Warr, DC Anik Joshi and DS Laura Wade investigate the dead body found in Rose Cottage. As they dig deeper into finding out the identity of the victim, they find the victim is linked to the money in the hearth and the train robbery. DC Jack Warr’s line of investigation tasks him with re-interviewing witnesses from the original train robbery investigation. Dolly is now dead, and while many have moved on and away, the other women from The Grange are all still alive.
As the investigation progresses, Jack is sure that DCI Ridley and the rest of the team are on the wrong track, and that they are looking for answers in the wrong direction. Jack believes that their focus is misplaced and that the women are the key to solving the crime.
When he was a young boy, Jack was adopted by Penny and Charlie Warr, and during the investigation, he receives some devastating news about Charlie. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Charlie only has a few months to live. Penny and Charlie decide to sell their bungalow and go on a cruise for the little time that Charlie has left. Before they go, Charlie gives Jack a folder containing his adoption information. Charlie will always be his father, and Penny his mother whether or not they share the same blood, but by giving Jack the information you feel Charlie is giving him his blessing and if he wants it the opportunity to find his biological father. Jack knew his birth parents’ names, Trudie and James Nunn, and he knew that Trudie had died years ago. In the folder, there is a picture of Trudie along with his birth certificate, but other than a name, there is nothing else about James ‘Jimmy‘ Nunn.
Just like he is their son, Penny and Charlie will always be Jack’s parents, his ‘mum and dad‘, but Jack finds he is curious about his biological father, where he came from, and who he really is. Jack becomes obsessed with finding out more about Jimmy Nunn. Simultaneously investigating his biological father and the Rose Cottage case. As he searches for the truth, links begin to form, the two investigations overlap, and Jack discovers Jimmy was part of the criminal underworld of the 1980s.
Buried finds Jack coasting in his career. Fourteen months ago, Jack transferred to the Metropolitan Police from rural Devon after he and his partner, Maggie, a trainee surgeon, moved to London for Maggie’s work. Jack is trying to find his place and figure out who he really is. At a crossroads, he has been a DC for many years, he isn’t driven, and he lacks both ambition and focus. There is a promotion available within the department to DS, but Jack isn’t sure if he wants to apply for the position.
Something changes in Jack, and for the first time in a very long time, he finds himself excited about his work. The Rose Cottage case is the case that makes him, igniting a fire in his belly, and he finds he cares about his job. Uncovering the truth allows Jack to find himself finding his future in the past, and discovering who he really is.
As the main character, I like Jack Warr, and I also like the characters of Maggie, Penny, Charlie and DCI Ridley too. As a police officer, Jack follows his gut, and his instinct; he often balances precariously on the morality line; he sees rules as being malleable, and he can think on his feet, and outside of the box too. His boss, DCI Ridley, is ordered, efficient, and strictly ‘by the book‘ unwaveringly adhering to the official rules; he is the opposite of Jack. As a person, Jack is strong and tough, but with a softer side that he shows towards Maggie, the love of his life; and his parents. The cast of supporting characters all have their role to play, some with a larger role than others, but all have their moments in the story too. Personality-wise, some are more muted than others, but some also have colourful and bold personalities.
The compelling and layered story is full of drama, tension and mystery. There is also a depth to the character of Jack Warr, and Buried is his becoming, his journey of self-discovery; and by the end, he has found out who he really is.
Expertly crafted, cleverly plotted, well-paced, and confidently written Buried is an entertaining page-turner, and a strong series start, I liked it, I really liked it.
Purchase Buried by Lynda La Plante.
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