8 February 2009

Review: FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, Peter Robinson

Hodder & Stoughton, 2007, ISBN 978-0-340-83690-3, 424 pages

Sunday morning brings with it the discovery of two murders, both women, one in a seedier part of the town of Eastvale, and the other in a wheelchair on a headland near Whitby.
DCI Alan Banks attends the Eastvale crime scene while his former colleague DI Annie Cabbot, on loan to Eastern Area, takes on the wheelchair murder.

The body of nineteen year old Hayley Daniels is discovered in the storeroom of a leather good shop in the Maze. CCTV shows Hayley entering the Maze on her own, so was her murderer waiting for her?

The body in the wheelchair, on the other hand, is that of a quadraplegic. Her murderer appears to have collected her from the care facility where she has been living, taken her to the headland, and slit her throat. Annie Cabbot's search for clues to the woman's background and identity unearths a connection to an old case that both she and Banks were involved in.

Annie is not handling her current situation at all well. She misses working with Banks and her search for personal reward is leading her down paths fraught with disaster. From the moment it is revealed that Banks and Cabbot are working apart, it is inevitable that their paths will cross. This does give THE FRIEND OF THE DEVIL a certain sense of predictability, although the nature of their relationship when they meet is problematic for both Banks and Cabbot. I enjoyed the expansion of the other characters including Detective Superintendent Catherine Gervaise, DS Kevin Templeton, and DC Winsome Jackman. Jackman in particular acts as a bridge between the investigations of Banks and Cabbot.

THE FRIEND OF THE DEVIL is the 17th Inspector Banks novel, and Robinson shows that he still has the capacity to surprise even while plumbing new depths in the Banks/Cabbot relationship. Annie Cabbot first appeared in 1999 IN A DRY SEASON, eight books before FRIEND OF THE DEVIL. Through her, Robinson has been exploring the parameters of successful detective partnerships. It is an issue which other authors like Ruth Rendell, Reginald Hill, and Colin Dexter avoided with their male duos. The relationship between Banks and Cabbot is not that of two equals: he after all is the "boss", and he is also quite a bit older than her. Robinson asks questions about whether the relationship between male and female detective duos needs to be emotional and whether it can ever be sexual. The changing landscape of the Banks/Cabbot relationship is part of what keeps fans coming back to this series.

My rating: 4.3

Other references in my blog to Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson's site

1 comment:

Joy said...

Oh wow. I have only read the first one in this series. Hopefully I'll get to the second one this year. I'm happy to learn that they continue to be good. :)


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