(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Feb. 22, Vaunda Bonnett)
A beautiful June day turns ugly when a man’s body is found hanging in the woods by a group of students. And while the Eastvale police are trying to determine what might have led to the apparent suicide of a popular theatrical set designer, the dead man’s retired businessman partner is found beaten to death in his home in a posh local neighborhood.
And celebrity connection has his superiors dragging Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks back from holiday, putting a kink in his new relationship.
But what seems to be an unfortunate, but straightforward, murder-suicide begins to get complicated when Banks runs afoul of a shadowy government agency by making a routine inquiry. Members of that group decide the stubborn DCI needs to be taught a lesson that has him fearing for the safely of everyone he cares about.
Peter Robinson’s 18th novel featuring Inspector Banks raises the tension level by playing topics from local theater group jealousies to international terrorism and remnants of the Cold War off each other. The most mundane fact might be important, and the case’s whispers, rumors and misdirections begin to resemble the theater group’s current production, “Othello.”
This 21-year-old series stays contemporary by staying on top of developments in technology and changes in society while never neglecting the growth of the characters. It also allow the books to stand on their own merit, whether a reader has been around Banks for one book, five books or all 18.
Robinson continues his practice of posting a playlist of music referenced in the book on his Web site, www.inspectorbanks.com, which adds a dimension that can be helpful to readers who don’t have access to British radio or an iPod with as broad a collection.
Vaunda Bonnett can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7917