The 20th entry in the wonderful Inspector Banks series by Peter Robinson opens with the shocking killing of one of Banks’ colleagues, a decorated detective inspector, on the grounds of St. Peter’s Police Convalescence and Treatment Center, where he was a patient. The Major Crimes Unit, or Homicide and Major Inquiry Team, as it was now known, operating out of Eastvale, is assigned, the investigative team once again including DS Winsome Jackman (“all six feet something of her”), DC Gerry Masterson, and DI Annie Cabbot, Banks’ close friend, who is just returning from a convalescence after having survived her own brutal wounds and subsequent convalescence in events described in a prior entry in the series.
Because there had recently been a hint of police corruption, Inspector Joanna Passero, of Professional Standards [the equivalent of the American IAB], is assigned to work with Banks. Their working relationship, perhaps understandably, is an ambivalent one, at least
initially. Very shortly, another murder takes place, and there are indications that the two killings may be related. Another angle that comes into play is a six-year-old cold case involving Rachel Hewitt, a 19-year-old English girl who seemingly “disappeared off the face of the earth” in Tallinn, Estonia, a case that had haunted the dead inspector for the intervening years, having been involved in the investigation at its inception in Tallinn.
The author expertly juxtaposes the lines of investigation, with Annie and her colleagues handling the Eastvale aspect of the case, and Banks the second killing, which appears to involve illegal migrant labor activities, ultimately taking him to Estonia, though he is warned not to get diverted by the Hewitt case. Following his instincts, as always, Banks is determined to do his best to bring closure to the girl’s parents if at all possible. A complex plot, carried off in smooth fashion, in a book that is highly recommended.
Reviewer: Gloria Feit
His first novel, Gallows View (1987), introduced Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks. It was short-listed for the John Creasey Award in the UK and the Crime Writers of Canada best first novel award. Since then Peter has written eighteen books in the series, which is now being televised. In 2002, Robinson was awarded the “Dagger in the Library” by the CWA.