23 March 2013

Review: WATCHING THE DARK, Peter Robinson

  • Published 2013 by Harper Collins
  • ISBN 978-0-06-200480-2
  • 354 pages
  • Source: a loan from a friend
  • Inspector Banks series #20

  • Synopsis (from author's website)

    When Detective Inspector Bill Reid Quinn is found murdered in the tranquil grounds of the St Peter’s Police Treatment Centre, and compromising photographs are discovered in his room, DCI Banks is called in to investigate. Because of the possibility of police corruption, he is assigned an officer from Professional Standards, Inspector Joanna Passero, to work closely with him, and he soon finds himself and his methods under scrutiny.

    It emerges that Reid’s Quinn's murder may be linked to the disappearance of an English girl called Rachel Hewitt, in Tallinn, Estonia, six years earlier. The deeper Banks looks into the old case, the more he begins to feel that he has to solve the mystery of Rachel’s disappearance before he can solve Reid’s murder, though Inspector Passero has a different agenda. When Banks and Passero travel to Tallinn to track down leads in the dark, cobbled alleys of the city’s Old Town, it soon become clear that that someone doesn’t want the past stirred up.

    Meanwhile, DI Annie Cabbot, just back at work after a serious injury, is following up leads in Eastvale. Her investigations take her to the heart of a migrant labour scam involving a corrupt staffing agency and a loan shark who preys on the poorest members of society. As the action shifts back and forth between Tallinn and Eastvale, it soon becomes clear that crimes are linked in more ways than Banks imagined, and that solving them may put even more lives in jeopardy.

    My Take

    I'm not sure why this book took me much longer than usual to read. I think it is probably that Robinson's writing is much more detailed than that of most of his contemporaries. There's always a lot going on in an Inspector Banks novel, not just several plot threads, but also connections with previous plots in previous novels. WATCHING THE DARK is no different. They are novels designed to satisfy fans of the series, to further develop threads, characters, and ongoing stories. That is their value as a series, more like episodes in a saga, and that's why the series grows on you. Readers have been with DCI Alan Banks for over 25 years now. I haven't read them all, but certainly most.

    Despite, or maybe because, I read the book slowly, I thoroughly enjoyed it: had time to smell the flowers so to speak, to appreciate the connections between the various plot threads. On fairly tenuous evidence, Banks is convinced there are links between the murder of DI Bill Quinn and a case he (Quinn) was involved in 6 years before: the disappearance in Estonia of a young English woman. He decides he needs to go to Estonia to investigate himself, but he will be accompanied by an officer from Professional Standards, and he does not like that one little bit.

    The character portrayal is excellent, and for the most part, the plot is believable. Just be prepared for it to be a demanding read.

    My rating: 4.7

    I've also reviewed
    4.6, BAD BOY (2010)
    4.9. BEFORE THE POISON - 2011 - not an Alan Banks title 

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Kerrie - I know what you mean about Robinson's writing. That's actually something I like about it too. I'm glad you enjoyed this one but then, I'm biased. I like this series very much.


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