A wild ride for Jane Tennison- the “Sweeney” squad’s new detective and she’s a woman!

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THE DIRTY DOZEN is the fifth book in A Jane Tennison Thriller series written by Lynda La Plante. Although it’s part of a series, it is the first book that I’ve read by this author and I feel that it can easily be read as a standalone book with only a few small references to previous events. The story takes place in 1980 with several historical references to the time period and follows the career of Detective Sergeant Jane Tennison. It’s definitely a wonderful adventure you don’t want to miss!

This story immediately pulled me and captured my attention. From the first few pages I felt like I was on a wild ride with Jane as she arrives at the station to begin her first day with the all male “Flying Squad “ of detectives also known as the “Sweeney.” This elite squad is tasked with the surveillance and investigation of criminals involved in armed robberies of banks and businesses and Jane is the first woman to be assigned to this renowned squad of men. The only problem is, no one is expecting her, only two people know why she’s there and more importantly, no one has informed the men of the “Sweeney” about her new assignment.

From the very moment Jane shows up everything is crazy. Rather than meeting with the man in charge, who isn’t even there, she’s whisked away with the men to stop a possible bank robbery. Thus, Jane begins a wild ride, at very dangerous speeds, in hot pursuit of the robbers. While driving to the scene, they’re all listening to the officers in pursuit of the robber’s vehicle. They hear the officers taking on fire, someone is hit, and then they hear the crunching of metal. When they arrive at the scene Jane is immediately relegated to talking to witnesses and is not allowed to participate in the investigation. Even when she finds out useful information from one of the witnesses she’s told it’s not vital to the investigation and is immediately shut down by her superior. Throughout the day the men of the squad question her abilities, purposely make her look incompetent and sideline her to unimportant tasks. When she is relegated to assisting the Scene Of Crime Officer- Dabs, Jane makes the best of the situation and finds many clues that were overlooked by the other detectives. Fortunately, Dabs acknowledges Jane’s investigative skills, not her gender, and the two work together to uncover a lot of useful evidence.

When Jane finally makes it back to the station and meets with the man in charge she is brutally informed that her transfer to the Flying Squad is only an experiment with the hopes of calming down the men of the elite squad, who like to think of themselves as “The Dirty Dozen.” She is told in no uncertain terms that her transfer is not based on any merit and the temporary assignment will be terminated when she makes a mistake. She is also told that the professional robbers the squad deals with are dangerous, hardened criminals and therefore Jane will not be allowed to be part of any ambush or front line assignment. She will only be a silent observer. Welcome to Jane’s first day!

As the story progresses Jane proves herself to be a strong, intelligent detective. She stands up for herself from the beginning, unwilling to accept the sexist/chauvinistic attitude from not only her squad but also from the public. Even the office secretary, the only other female in the building, sees her as a threat. Despite the many obstacles in her way, her determination and tenacity have her following several leads on her own. When Jane gets reliable information about another much larger robbery that is being planned by a dangerous gang known for its violence, she goes undercover as a waitress. Using her experience and brilliance she uncovers many clues, follows small leads and is able to break open the case. Ultimately, Jane proves herself worthy and the team is forced to acknowledge her as one of the Flying Squad of detectives!

I really enjoyed this story! I loved Jane’s strength of character, her self confidence, determination and resilience! Even though she made some mistakes, she proved that she could hold her own with the elite men of the Flying Squad. The story and investigation held my attention. The plot was well developed and the characters were realistic for the time period. I thought it was interesting and eye opening to see the investigation proceed without the use of modern technology such as computers and cell phones. This story was very detailed and heavy on police procedures. Often, information was repeated which at times slowed the story down but did not take away from my enjoyment of the experience. The first few chapters, although exciting, were heavy with abbreviations that were unfamiliar to me. A list of abbreviations and meanings would have been helpful. Overall, I thought The Dirty Dozen was very entertaining and the investigation and mystery definitely held my attention. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and found it hard to put down! I look forward to reading about Jane Tennison and her future investigations in the next book in this series!

I received a free ARC of this book from the publishers through BookishFirst in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. Thank you!