Avon, 2002 (2001)
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Reviewed by G. Hall
continues the well-written series about Yorkshire Detective Superintendent Alan Banks. Although a Canadian resident for many years, Robinson mines his Yorkshire childhood memories, along with frequent visits back to England, to keep the settings fresh and the details current. The Robinson books are definitely a cut above typical British procedurals and the best of them are in the same class as Ian Rankin's better mysteries.
s the book starts, Maggie Forrest, who lives across from local schoolteacher Terry Payne and his wife Lucy, sees a flurry of police activity one morning. Detective police constable Janet Taylor and her partner have been called to a domestic dispute. Once they are in the house however, Payne attacks them and kills Taylor's partner before Taylor subdues him rather violently. Lucy is found suffering from injuries inflicted by Terry. Once the police investigate the murder scene they make a gruesome discovery in the basement where there is a stash of decomposed bodies of young females.
lthough serial killers in mysteries have become a real cliché, this one features a creatively disturbed killer and contains some satisfying and surprising plot twists. Forrest herself, living in England to escape an abusive husband in Toronto, has befriended young Lucy since they share the painful history of domestic abuse. When Payne eventually dies of his injuries, Taylor is suspended pending an inquiry on whether she used too much force. Banks' colleague, and sometime lover, Annie Cabbot is assigned the difficult job of handling the inquiry. At the same time Banks must determine if all the missing local girls were killed by Payne. The plot thickens when the police examine the extent of Lucy's culpability and learn some very surprising and alarming facts about her childhood.
is not as good as Robinson's breakout novel,
Death in a Dry Season
. This one seems a bit lukewarm and the obligatory sub-plot concerning Banks' personal life and relationships with his pregnant ex-wife and girlfriend Annie not that engrossing. However, Robinson's book are always enjoyable reads and he continues to be a member of the elite group of British mystery writers inhabited by Ian Rankin, Deborah Crombie and Michelle Spring.
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