Synopsis: Taken from the book
When Alan Banks receives a mysterious and disturbing telephone call from his brother Roy, he abandons the peaceful Yorkshire Dales for the bright lights of London to search him out. But Roy has vanished into thin air, and now Banks fears this could have been their final conversation.
Meanwhile DI Annie Cabbot is called to a murder scene on a quiet stretch of road just outside Eastvale. A young woman has been found dead in her car…and in the back pocket of her jeans, written on a slip of paper, police discover Banks’s name and address.
Living in his brother’s empty, luxurious South Kensington house, Banks finds himself digging into the life of the brother he never really knew or even liked. And as he begins to uncover a few troubling surprises, Annie must single-handedly track down the Eastvale victim’s friends and colleagues.
It seems that both trails are leading towards frightening conclusions. But when the cases begin to intersect, the consequences for Banks and Annie become terrifying…
About The Author:
Born in Yorkshire, Peter Robinson achieved his BA Honours Degree in English Literature at Leeds University, went to Canada to take his MA in English and Creative Writing, returning to York University where he was awarded a PhD in English.
He now divides his time between, Richmond North Yorkshire UK and Toronto Canada.
He is renowned for introducing us to the character, Detective Inspector Alan Banks, in his first novel ‘Gallows View’, in 1987. This Mystery Series, now boasts some 19 books, plus numerous nominations and awards, for it’s author.
My Personal Thoughts About This Book:
Without having read many of the other books , in this most enjoyable series, and wondering why it has yet to be made into a television drama, like so many of it’s counterparts, I came to the conclusion that this must have been the most emotional and difficult case for Alan Banks.
With his personal life, the proverbial shambles and his career hanging in the balance, we find Banks in a state of almost catatonic depression, at the start of the book. He is morose and reclusive and it is with great difficulty that he finds the motivation to travel down to London, to try and find out what is so worrying his brother.
As Banks has always felt himself to be the outsider of the family, with his perception that Roy is the favoured son, and with the knowledge that the two of them have never been particularly close, he is still questioning Roy’s motives in calling him, so his investigation starts off at a very slow pace.
Once the enormity of Roy’s predicament starts to unfold, we can visibly see Banks begin to rally, although he then makes perhaps a huge mistake in judgement, in not involving, nor even informing the local policing authorities of his growing concerns, especially when he realises just how close to the wind Roy is sailing, in some of his business connections.
He has realised that despite their differences, Roy is the brother for whom, when he analyses his motives he does still have feelings, so the urge to give Roy the benefit of the doubt and protect his parents from the truth for as long as possible, is a strong one.
Instead, Banks enlists the help of his long-time rival, of dubious integrity, Detective Superintendent Burgess, who is surprisingly co-operative and, for him, discreet. Then, Roy’s disappearance starts to converge with a case being investigated back in Yorkshire and Banks has no choice but to engage with some of the colleagues he has been avoiding and also with a new character, that Peter Robinson introduces quite near to the end of the book, but who plays a pivotal role in the plot’s outcome.
Banks discovers that despite his estrangement from Roy, the younger man is still deep down, looking for his older brother to help him out of a hole, just as he had when they were children, but has maybe left it too late to let Banks know the respect he actually has for him. Banks in turn reminisces about times past, when he may have avoided Roy, because of the jealousy he felt, over the attention he was given by their parents.
Banks also has to come to terms with his parents vulnerability and frailty, although we see that this is quite difficult for them all to deal with, as they seem to be a very undemonstrative, insular family, unused to showing their true feelings and emotions.
Working on a case where family is so involved, would be an emotional roller coaster for anyone, but given Banks’s fragile grasp on reality, Peter Robinson has done a great job at guiding his character through the minefield and back to a sense of reality.
Banks’s professionalism wins through in the end, although there are a couple of heart stopping moments along the way, and the climax is redemptive, but uncomfortable.
By the time he returns to The Dales, Banks is well on his way to recovery and ready to pick up the pieces of his professional life, whilst his private life will need considerably more work on it, before it can really be seen as back on track.
I thoroughly enjoyed this brilliant homage to ‘The Great British Detective’ and would award it 4 out of 5