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…
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 the Inspector Banks series of novels set in the fictional Yorkshire town of Eastvale, which have been translated into nineteen languages, but also writes short stories and other novels.
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.
“I think writers have to able to enjoy solitude rather than just endure it. I’ve always enjoyed being left alone with my imagination, ever since I was a kid.”
“British crime writing at its very best!”
Without having read many of the other books in this most enjoyable series, 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’
Check out those all important “First Lines” … Would they make you want to read on?
Sharing a few more “Teaser Lines” … just to keep you guessing
This book has been languishing on my shelves gathering dust for far too long. It was time to dust it off and make that oh! so small dent in mount TBR!
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article I may have written about the book.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 4 out of 5