A group of children playing in the woods in the Yorkshire Dales discovers a man's body hanging from a tree. Mark Hardcastle, theatre set designer, appears to have committed suicide after killing his lover Laurence Silbert.
DI Annie Cabbot's investigation is complicated by the fact that her boss DCI Alan Banks is having a weekend in London with his girlfriend, and that the Chief Constable, a friend of Silbert's, wants unsavoury details hushed up. Banks is not happy when Superintendent Gervaise insists he is called back early. However when he begins to uncover details, Gervaise is far from happy about the direction the investigation is taking.
The Chief Constable, in response to pressure from higher up, insists that the investigation be wrapped up quickly. Banks however becomes convinced that he is under observation, that there is more to know about Silbert, and, as Gervaise knows, telling him to stop just ensures he will ignore orders. She tells Banks to resume his holidays, and to leave the final details to Annie Cabbot. Which of course he can't do.
It occurred to me, as I read on, that the plot line of the high level detective coming under threat because he won't abandon an investigation is wearing a bit thin. We've seen it used in many other novels - Frost, Harry Hole, and Kurt Wallander, just to name a few that come quickly to mind. But somehow for me that doesn't really detract from the fine plotting in this novel. Banks eventually comes up with a plausible explanation for the murder/suicide after a couple of stuttering and implausible theories. Annie Cabbot, as usual, is drawn in by the charisma of her boss, and puts her career, and her life, on the line.
It always amazes me that Robinson, after all a Canadian, writes such an English novel. And what is it about Yorkshire? Robinson novels are set largely in Yorkshire and London, Reginald Hill's Dalziel & Pascoe are set in Yorkshire. And also, Wingfield's novels are set nearby in the Midlands.Yorkshire must rival Midsomer for murder capital of the world!
the songs mentioned.
A very acceptable read. My rating: 4.6
Other reviews to check:
- Books to the Ceiling "found it in some degree wanting."
See also my review of FRIEND OF THE DEVIL
Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks site.