Like so many stories, Cold is the Grave
started with a simple, "What if.?"
In this case, what if a young boy, not really old enough to understand what he was seeing, found himself by mistake at an Internet porn site looking at pictures of his runaway teenage sister? And what if this wayward girl happened to be the daughter of the Chief Constable, Detective Inspector Alan Banks's overbearing and malicious boss? Naturally, the best man for the job of finding her and bringing her home is Banks himself, and so the story begins.
It seemed to me that over the last three or four books, Chief Constable Riddle had become a stereotypical by-the-book boss, the sort of person we have all had to deal at one time or another in our working lives, with an unexplained loathing for Banks. I could either keep things that way until I simply tired of him and had him retire, or I could pick up the challenge and try to make him a more sympathetic, understandable human being: someone who has good reasons for being the way he is. I chose the latter course, and through trying to find out what makes him tick, I came up with the story behind the Riddle family, in the process discovering the reason he has such a particular loathing for Banks.
In order to find Riddle's daughter, Banks first has to head to London's sleazy Soho district, far from his regular North Yorkshire patch, but he is soon back up there among the drystone walls, the steeply rising dalesides, the limestone scars and the cobbled market squares, the crumbling castles and narrow, twisting streets of Eastvale. This is the landscape I fell in love with as a child, when I first visited it with my father on his photographic expeditions. We would set off by bus or train, as we didn't have a car, on daytrips to Richmond, Knaresborough, Ripon or Skipton, where I would wait around until the light was right for my father's photographs I never thought then that the landscape would become such a part of my life's work, but looking back, I must have been absorbing it and observing its nuances as I waited for the sun to come out from behind a cloud.
I've always thought that Banks and I led very similar lives until we diverged in our late teens-me to university, teaching and writing, and Banks to the police, marriage and children-and that has always allowed me to pass off certain of my early memories and experiences as his. This is no less a feature of Cold is the Grave as it is of the other books, and here you'll find Banks musing about a school friend who disappeared without trace and a nasty incident down by the canal. Banks's sergeant, Annie Cabbot, also has to confront her past in this book, where people are rarely what they seem, and their reactions to events and revelations are as unpredictable as the Yorkshire weather.
Writing the book was as much a voyage of discovery for me as I hope it will be for the reader. As usual, when I posed my simple "What if?" I had no idea what the journey would be like, what more I would discover about Banks and Annie, and what complications would result, what secrets would be revealed.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.