This outstanding addition to the DCI Alan Banks series, (#27), delivers everything you would expect from this author, (whose characters just keep getting better with age) and at the same time, introduces a bit of a wistful and nostalgic tone that makes me wonder if changes are afoot in this series for Banks (who at this point, has seen many of his cronies off into retirement).
If so that would be sad.
DCI Alan Banks is a fabulous, complex, and compassionate character – an odd-duck British detective who is a passionate lover of music (a multitude of genres, but always best on vinyl), a bit of a wise-guy, and a proud father of two young adults (each of them moving on and away with the next stages of their lives). Banks, at this point in the series single again, is now given to “dark and lonely” contemplations over a glass or two of red wine (sometimes whiskey), at home alone in his gravel-fronted cottage, wondering if fighting crime can really form the meaningful substance of an entire life.
In a bit of new twist, in this book Banks’s detecting forms only one of the three main threads running in parallel that interleave to form this story.
Banks, with the help of his NCA and international contacts, comes up against pure evil as he pursues the killer of a notorious villain with ties to sex-trafficking and drugs in deep affiliation with the Albanian mob.
Meanwhile, the rest of Bank’s core team, DC Gerry Masterson and DI Annie Cabbot follow their own inquiries (leading to several clever plot twists and turns) after the discovery of the drugging and rape of a young girl.
The final thread re-introduces beautiful Zelda, a mysterious figure who we know to be running from a past full of “deeds that haunted her”, leaving her to wonder if she could ever “remake herself into a decent normal human being”. As we have seen before, (and although we get to know more of Zelda’s background in this novel) Zelda and Banks clearly have unfinished business.
The plot is complex, each thread interesting and engaging in its own right, and in typical Peter Robinson fashion, all three threads weave together beautifully into a grand finale that is oddly satisfying as well as (typical of good series form) tantalizingly suggestive of things to come.
I can’t wait to read the next edition of this wonderful series.
A big thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for an advance review copy of this novel. All thoughts presented are my own.