Top positive review
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"What the hell was it about the music that bothered him? Why did it have to mean something?"
on 11 October 2007
With this novel in the Inspector Banks series, Robinson has taken his work to the next level. His magnificent ability to use everyday situations in his plots, to provide insights regarding the motivations of his characters, and his cleverly-crafted mysteries are complemented with a deeper look at the main characters. This last element is the one that does the trick for me and lifts this effort from very good to excellent.
Inspector Banks has to find Caroline's killer, which is not an easy task, especially due to the number of people that had both opportunity and motive for committing the crime. The fact that she was living as a life-partner with another woman, who is not yet divorced, complicates matters and allows for some very interesting insights into the prejudices of some of the characters involved. When you add a piece of music playing repeatedly at the crime scene, which seems to have a clear symbolism, the elements are set for a compelling mystery.
This novel has all the characteristics that have made this author one of my favorites in the genre, but it goes even beyond that. This is the first time I see several passages with some fine humor, which works very well to provide the story with variety and to lighten the mood. Since before this work Robinson has been compared repeatedly with P. D. James, he just could not refrain himself and I almost started to laugh out loud when Banks thinks to himself: "I'm getting just like that Dalgliesh fellow..."
Robinson also makes great strides in terms of the development of the main characters, giving them even more depth. Not only we get a glimpse of some of Banks' reasons for leaving London and settling on the countryside, but there is considerably more material dealing with the personal relationship among the characters than there was in the previous novel, "The Hanging Valley". Another aspect that helps is the inclusion of a new character. Susan, a new constable that has just joined the Eastvale team, possesses a complex personality and a few prejudices that allow for some enlightening contrasts with Banks. She reminds me a little of Sergeant Barbara Havers, the beloved character in the series by Elizabeth George.
There is no question in my mind, this is the best book in the series so far and I recommend it wholeheartedly.