Unholy Murder by Lynda La Plante

‘Help me turn the coffin lid over.’ Jane Tennison said, grabbing one end.
‘What you looking for?’ Doctor Pullen asked.
‘I want to see the condition of the interior lining.’
‘The right hand on the body has a broken fingernails, some are worn down to the fingertips.’ Doctor Pullen informed them as they gently turned the lid over. The mouldy white satin lining was torn and hanging loose at the head end. Jane gently brushed it to one side revealing deep fingernail scratch marks on the interior metal.
‘Oh my God,’ Tennison exclaimed. ‘She was buried alive.’

In Unholy Murder, Tennison must lift the lid on the most chilling murder case of her career to date . . .

Lynda LaPlante just knows how to do police procedurals. Once again, she gives us an engaging story. Jane Tennison is called to the discovery of an unearthed coffin on the site of an old convent being redeveloped as residential units. Problem is, the coffin contains a dead nun who was murdered. As they attempt to investigate, the Catholic Church can’t/won’t help, claiming the convent’s records were burned up in a fire. There is an interesting side story involving a prior incident DCS Barnes had with the Catholic Church which is coloring his judgement and may impact the current investigation.
I have not read all of the books in this series and this can easily be read as a stand alone. The series takes place in the 1970s- 80s (this one is based in 1982 based on the Pope’s visit to the UK). It’s a good reminder of how we all survived without cell phones, the internet, etc. and when we had to rely on actual paper records.
LaPlante doesn’t write fast paced books. But they’re consistently engaging and believable. Her characters are well developed and LaPlante gives us a nice mix of professional and personal lives. Boon, in particular, really came through in this book.
I appreciated that everyone’s suspicions and prejudices cause them to make mistakes, some with more lasting repercussions than others. This is a series I will continue to follow and look forward to new additions.

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