Synopsis words taken from the book:
“Near the village of Helmthorpe, Swainsdale, the body of a well-liked local historian is found half-buried under a drystone wall.
Harry Steadman has been brutally murdered. But who would want to kill such a thoughtful, dedicated man?
Chief Inspector Alan Banks is called in to investigate and soon discovers that disturbing secrets lie behind the apparently bucolic facade.
It is clear that young Sally Lumb, locked in her lover’s arms on the night of the murder, knows more than she is letting on. And her knowledge could lead to danger …”
About The Author:
Peter Robinson is a native of Yorkshire, England, where he earned his BA Honours Degree in English Literature, from the University of Leeds.
He then moved to Canada where he earned an MA in English and Creative Writing, going on to further success with a PhD in English.
Peter is best known for introducing us to his character, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, who has now successfully unravelled some 19 cases, during his 24 year career. He has also had success with a couple of stand alone novels and collections.
He has been nominated for and won, numerous awards for his contribution to the genre of crime thriller writing and now divides his time between his Canadian home in Toronto and Richmond in his native Yorkshire.
My favourite lines from the book…
“Murder is the one crime that can’t be put right. It upsets the balance. The dead can’t be restored like stolen property; death doesn’t heal like physical or emotional scars left by assault or rape. It’s final. The end…”
My thoughts about the book…
I have read books from later in the ‘Alan Banks’ series, so I already know what happens to the character in his personal life, although this does not detract in any way from my enjoyment in back-tracking a little, in this, the second book in the series.
Peter Robinson is still establishing the character and his family, fleshing them out, to give them a life of their own. They are becoming totally believable, not too exuberant or larger than life, as they strive to fit into their new home and community in the Yorkshire dales, after the hustle and bustle of life in London.
Banks is coming to like his new found peace and quiet, mentally leaving the investigation for short periods, to share his random thoughts and to wax lyrical in his very vivid and real descriptions, of his adopted Yorkshire Dales.
Much of the investigation seems to take place in or around various public houses and involves quite a large intake of both alcohol and tobacco, with much of the time in between spent driving between remote locations in the Dales, to the accompaniment of his latest interest, folk music. I found this flawed side to his character quite endearing and in keeping with the whols ethos of this intimate community, although I did have more than a passing thought that the similarity of the character with that of Colin Dexter’s character of ‘Morse’, was quite uncanny in many instances, although of course Morse had his musical tastes firmly rooted in the Classical genre.
In fact, all of the characters in the story are well developed and believable, in their individual roles, within this tightknit community. Banks is still treated as something of an outsider, with the locals reluctant to talk to, or confide in him, despite the fact that everyone knows everyone else and everyone has an opinion to share. As is so often the case in smaller communities however, they are so busy minding everyone else’s business, that they have been caught unawares and are blissfully ignorant about the identity of the murderer in their midst.
The plot isn’t hurried along, which is a little unfortunate for Banks, who subsequently and very emotionally for him personally, has two crimes on his hands. We now get to go beyond that bluff exterior and see the softer side to his personality, as he strives to come to terms with his own shortcomings in the investigation, in this often reflective study of human nature.
Banks is a man of great tenacity in his ability to solve a crime, despite the many false leads and intricate sub-plots, that stand in his way and following his thought processes and powers of deduction was quite interesting, changing my mind about the identity of the person he was seeking out several times and keeping me guessing right until the end.
This book was nothing less than the quality of writing and levels of suspense, that I have come to expect from Peter Robinson and personally, I would highly recommend it, if you are in the market for a great crime fiction read.