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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Watching the Dark by Peter Robinson



Watching the Dark
by Peter Robinson
Publication Date: Feb 25, 2014 
(William Morrow)



When Detective Inspector Bill 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 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 Quinn’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 labor 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.



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My thoughts: This is book 20 in the Inspector Banks series, but it read very well as a stand alone.  It did refer to previous events, but if anything, it just made me want to go back and read the earlier books to find out what had really happened. 

You are given a lot of information in this book, and discover things in the same order as the police.  It seems to move slowly at times, but the whole book takes place in a little over a weeks time.  I enjoyed the way that the author brought together the pieces necessary for DCI Banks to solve his case. 

I liked the friendship between Banks and Annie and got the sense that there is a romantic history there and that it maybe isn't completely over.  Joanna Passero is also introduced in this book.  She is from Professional Standards (Internal Affairs) and Banks does not really want her around.  His brusque manner with her slowly evolves into a working relationship, but she keeps her personal life close to her vest. I have a feeling we will see more of her in the series. 

Now let me change tracks for minute.  For whatever reason, British mysteries take me what feels like forever to read.  I don't know whether it is the difference in terms/chain of command for police officers, whether it is the foreign locale - though many of the places in this book are fictional, they are based on foreign towns, or whether it is the different (interpret - not Americanized) names like Krystyna or Mikhel and Merike.  I was comparing the time it takes me to read a James Patterson or Harlan Coben thriller and think I figured out the BIG difference.  In this book and books like Charles Todd's Proof of Guilt, the crime has already been committed and you are seeing things from the police's point of view. In a Patterson thriller, the action is happening as you read and you often go back and forth between antagonist and the protagonist.  So now that I have worked through my own dilemma when it comes to reading these mysteries, let's get back to it.

~I received a complimentary copy of Watching the Dark from Harper Collins in exchange for my unbiased review.~

I did enjoy this book and want to take a minute to tell you about the next book coming out in this series NEXT WEEK - Children of the Revolution


New York Times bestselling author Peter Robinson is back with the gritty, witty, and intricate mind of Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks in a complex case told in CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION (William Morrow; Hardcover;March 25, 2014; $25.99; ISBN: 9780062240507). With inexorable momentum, emotional literacy, and a serpentine knot of connections driving the caseRobinson lucidly illustrates his ongoing ability to intrigue readers, old and new.

When disgraced college lecturer Gavin Miller is discovered dead on an abandoned railway line near his home, Banks and his team are drafted to investigate what appears to be a drug-facilitated murder. But Miller is found with a staggering 5,000 pounds—a surprising facet given Miller lived as a poverty-stricken recluse since his dismissal at Eastvale College four years prior. As evidence unfolds, Banks begins to realize it’s not the present that will lead him to the answers he needs, but the dark seeds of the past.

The detective and his team start to track back through Miller’s life, finding a long line of suspects at Eastvale, as well as his Alma mater—a hotbed of militant protest and bitter politics during his stay. Banks is convinced that the skeletons of the past will break this case open, but once a high-profile suspect becomes involved, his superiors warn him to back off.

Now risking his career by conducting the investigation surreptitiously, he uncovers family secrets that lead to a dramatic collision. After the layers of deceit are stripped away, the breakthroughs are not the ones Banks expected and the case moves into high gear with an unexpected end.

In this novel, Robinson brings a fascinating backstory to the fore and the reality of the 1970’s to life. CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION is a top-notch thriller that further confirms Banks’s place as one of the most intriguing characters in detective fiction.

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