LIZA CODY – Stalker. Anna Lee #3. Charles Scribner’s Sons, US, hardcover, 1984. Warner, US, paperback; 1st printing,March 1986. First published in the UK by Collins, hardcover, 1984. Televised as an episode of Anna Lee, ITV, UK, 6 March 1994 (Season 1, Episode 2) with Imogen Stubbs as Anna Lee.

   I watched Anna Lee: Headcase, the pilot film for the TV series, back in 2011, and you can find my review of it here. I mentioned at the time that I had not yet watched any of the five episodes that comprised the series itself, and here I am now admitting to you that I still haven’t gotten to them.

   While I enjoyed that pilot movie, I also pointed out that as the author of the books, Liza Cody did not like the way the series was going, and worse, as I understand it, she somehow lost her rights of Anna Lee as a character. She was upset enough that she even decided to stop writing novels about her.

   How accurate everything in the paragraph is, I do not know, and you should take it with a grain of salt. As for the printed version of the character, Stalker is now the first of the books I’ve read. The review itself starts here.

   It’s a short book, less than 200 pages of larger than average print, and as I was reaching the halfway point, I was saying to myself that this may be the best book about a female PI that I’ve ever read. But by the time I finished the book, all I could was wonder what it was that went wrong.

   Anna Lee does not work on her own. She’s a member of a Private Investigation agency, and the newest one to boot, subject to having to follow orders from the head of the firm, Commander Brierly, promptly and precisely, and properly submitting all the receipts she receives to the agency’s secretary, who runs a very tight ship, indeed.

   Her assignment? To track down a missing carpenter to whose business their client had given financial backing, but who has since seemed to have disappeared. Anna, a good woman for details and possessing the tenacity and determination needed to track people down, is the perfect person for the job.

   She soon discovers the missing man was also interested in antiques, was into deer hunting as a sport, and has a wife who does not seem to know where he is either. The mystery deepens as the woman also seems to have two men quietly acting as bodyguards, and Anna is unable to learn more from her.

   Not to be deterred, Anna follows the deer hunting lead into the wilderness of quiet English village life, where Anna is like a fish out of water — far from helpless but definitely out of her natural element.

   So far, very satisfactory indeed, but it is downhill from here. Much of the second half is taken up with a romantic encounter between Anna and a man of some wealth and distinction that one would think would have some bearing on the case, but alas it does not. The question is instead, will the liaison last? — and I will not tell you the outcome of that.

   The solution to the case she was assigned is eventually solved, but Anna (and the reader) learn the full story only offstage and via second hand reports. Half a book is better than none, you might say, but not when it comes to mystery fiction.