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17 August 2012

Peter Robinson: In a Dry Season (Inspector Banks Novels)

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Top marks for this acclaimed British police procedural series
Friends had been suggesting for some time that I should read Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks books. I am so glad I did as it introduced me to one of the best British police procedural series around.

Both Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks and Detective Sergeant Annie Cabbot have run foul of the Yorkshire Police administration and have been posted to police career Siberia by politically sensitive and seemingly inept Chief Constable Jerimiah (Jimmy) Riddle. (Isn't it interesting how many Police Chiefs in detective novels have strange names and are made out to be both politically sensitive and inept.)

As further punishment Riddle assigns DCI Banks and DS Cabbot to work a cold case that the Yorkshire police department considers to be insouluble and somewhat of a joke. A skeleton has been found buried in the ruins of a long abandoned village - Hobbs End - that have emerged at the bottom of a remote reservoir after a long drought.

Through detailed police work Banks and Cabbot quickly discover the identity of the skeleton, and that she was murdered and subsequently stabbed several times around the end of World War II. The story cleverly intermixes the current police investigation with the story of Hobbs End community during the war, from the days of the blitz to the impact of American servicemen from a nearby bomber base on the village.

Banks and Cabbot do a brilliant job in tracking down the story behind the murder by talking to a small number of people who lived in the village who are still alive and finding key information in old and dusty records in England and the US.

Peter Robinson shows great skills in describing the developing relationship between the leading police players and everything about the people of Hobbs End, especially the impact of the US servicemen on the village when most local youth are serving overseas. His love for the Yorkshire Dales shines through brightly and his description of England during the war is accurate and atmospheric.

I enjoyed this well written and deceptively clever detective novel and will certainly be reading more Peter Robinson books in the future.

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