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4.3 out of 5 stars
Watching the Dark: The 20th DCI Banks Mystery (Inspector Banks 20)
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2012
It's been a long time since I wrote a review here on Amazon, due to lack of time. However, after having read this latest Alan Banks case by Peter Robinson I just had to give my praise.

And praise I'm giving. This is the best book I have read this year and it was hard to put down. In addition to the story, the atmosphere of a country very unknown to me, was a huge and interesting plus. As another reviewer has already said, it makes you want to go there.

And Banks himself. Like an old friend by now. Although, in addition to obviously being a very attractive guy, he is a sensitive, complex personality with his love om music, his remote little cottage and the nature around. I see him as a romantic, in spite of facing the cruel facts of the criminal world his job offers with a clear and sharp mind.

I'll not go into the story in this book, but leave it for readers to enjoy. But it is as intricate and interesting as any Banks mystery. Keeping the reader awake until early morning, at least it did me.

For all Peter Robinson lovers the book is a must. And for those who have not yet discovered DI Alan Banks, do read this one - and all the others in this series. Excellent entertaining by a master storyteller!!
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2012
I've said it before and I'll say it again - if Peter Robinson's name is on it, I know I'm in for a good read. I enjoyed last year's stand alone novel - Before the Poison. (Winner of the 2012 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel by the Crime Writers of Canada) But, I've waiting for the latest installment in Robinson's Inspector Banks series. And it's here! Watching the Dark is the 20th entry in this wonderful series.

Watching the Dark opens at the St. Peter's Police Treatment Centre. Annie Cabot has just left the centre, finally ready to return to work after a lengthy convalescence. So, Alan Banks is familiar with the centre, but didn't expect to be working a case there. Bill Reid, a fellow officer has been murdered on the grounds - by a crossbow. On searching Reid's room, photos of a compromising nature are found. Banks is determined to not judge until his investigation is complete, but Inspector Joanna Passero from Professional Standards (internal investigations) is brought in to 'help' Banks with his inquiries. As Banks digs into Reid's past, he wonders if a cold case of Reid's could be tied to his death.

Robinson takes us out of Eastvale with Banks' investigation and into Estonia. I must admit, I truly had no firm grasp on this country but Robinson did a great job of setting the stage with detailed descriptions and characters. I was surprised to learn that English stag and hen parties take cheap flights over for weekend parties.

I was glad to see Annie Cabot back on the job. She's out to prove herself after being injured and off the job for so long, so she delves into the case with dogged determination. Her investigations keep her in Eastvale, but dealing with the ugly underbelly of this bucolic Yorkshire countryside. She is following the tracks of migrant workers tricked and abused by local criminals. Her storyline takes the stage almost as much as Banks's in this book. That's a good thing, as she's a character I quite enjoy.

Inspector Passero was an interesting addition. I was never really sure of her agenda and Robinson keeps us guessing until the very last chapters. And, I'm still not sure if we really know her - I think she'll make an appearance in the next book, but I'll reserve judgment until then.

I've always enjoyed Banks's love of music and the references to what he's listening to. However it seemed like there were quite a few this time - enough that I found myself skimming over some of these passages.

Robinson has crafted a multi faceted, well paced plot that takes inspiration from current day issues. I did find the end to be tied up a bit too neatly, but all in all it was a read I quite enjoyed. And I'll be waiting for the 21st book!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 24 August 2012
Peter Robinson has written another chapter in DCI Alan Banks's story. This is an engaging follow-up. The crossbow-killing of a fellow detective, Bill Reid, in a police re-habilitation centre is the starter. Scrutinised by workmates, closely, notably Joanna Pessaro, Banks enters the foray that takes him to Estonia, into the cobbled town of Tallinn. Dark and brooding, the disappearance of Rachel Hewitt 6 years ago after a hen-party sets Banks and Joanna Pressaro (his watchguard) on to the trail that leads to more intrigue. Recovering DI Annie Corbett, from a shooting trauma, is suffering her problems plus, although at homely Eastvale. She has to deal with the Eastern bloc perversity of marketing illegal and immigrant personnel. The interaction with rogue profit-makers with their promises of jobs may be familiar but add lurid corruption to the tale and to Banks's investigation. Meanwhile Banks is off to try to solve the riddle of Rachel's disappearance given the limited information he has at hand. This opens more gates than it shuts, adding to the plot.

Peter Robinson has written an easy readable story that continues DCI Bank's endeavours. This is an in and out enjoyable tale but I did find that there was an effort to take the narrative to it's conclusion. The author admits that he was not sure where the storyline was going. Fittingly, as a professional, he does negotiate an ending. Where next, however? As with all established characters, there is inevitably a limit to how much can be sqeezed out of a character. A further episode will undoubtedly surface. When the balloon finally bursts, I hope it goes with a climactic bang.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks continues with his crime fighting in Yorkshire, but this time the crime leads him to Estonia. A country not in the public eye, but one that comes alive under Peter Robinson's writing.

DCI Banks is investigating the death of a colleague, DI Bill Quinn. He was killed on the grounds of a rehab for professional policemen. DS Annie Cabbott happens to be at the same rehab recovering from a work related injury. She has recovered enough to return to work, and she is the most trustworthy of Banks colleagues. While investigation continues, compromising photographs are found with Quinn and a young woman. That and other clues suggest police corruption,and a young very attractive Inspector Joanna Passero from Professional Standards is assigned to work with Banks. She goes with him to Estonia to follow up leads. All of this seems quite out of hand to me, and suggests a romance and a method to introduce a new character. All of this leads to a missing teenager, migrant labor issues, people trafficking and the afore mentioned police corruption.

This is a very fast paced novel. The 20th novel involving DCI Banks, and I have read them all. Moving the crime enviornment to Estonia is a fascinating asset to this novel. The description and culture of Estonia has given me a different and new perspective of that part of the world. The crime involving greed and corruption is a new avenue for DCI Banks, and a most welcome one. Well done, Peter Robinson.

Recommended. prisrob 04-16-13
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Watching the Dark" is the latest episode of the usually very entertaining Chief Inspector Alan Banks series, Set in the present, this crime novel opens with the murder of an English copper who had once been on the track of a young woman gone missing on a pre-bridal hen party in Tallinn, Estonia. The dectective's death is followed by a second--this time, an Estonian journalist working on the exploitation of East European laborers in England. C.I. Banks' investigation quickly ties the two murdered men together through the case of the missing English girl. The detailed building of the story early on gives way to an engrossing procedural in two countries, as the dogged Banks and his team of detectives--mostly female officers--gradually close in on a solution to the two murders which in turn leads to a possible closure of the missing person case.

The book has an interesting and original plot, good pacing, with few false notes in the procedural. The action in Estonia details some interesting European geography. But novel's strongest point, I think, is the array of well-developed characters at play. The crimes really are about the interactions of people and their motivations--greed, lust, guilt, etc.--and author Peter Robinson ties all of it up into a rather a neat package.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
DI Bill Quinn is killed by a crossbow bolt in the grounds of a police convalescent home. DI Alan Banks and his team at first think it could be a revenge attack which probably means searching through all his previous cases to find out who could have wished him dead and been in a position to carry out the crime. But there is a hint of police corruption in the air and Joanna Passero of Professional Standards is allocated to shadow the team. DI Annie Cabbot - newly returned to work following her injury in the previous book in the series is gradually finding her feet again.

This is an interesting story featuring several strands including a missing young woman from six years ago, illegal migrant labour and another murder. In fact there are almost too many strands to the story so to me it came over as a little fragmented and I did lose track of the plot part way through and had to go back and refresh my memory. To a certain extent it is redeemed by the ending which I thought was satisfying.

Inevitably in any long running series you get some books which aren't as good as others. Overall though this series is of excellent quality with believable and interesting characters, an authentic background and well constructed plots.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 July 2013
I said in a review of one of Peter Robinson's recent books that I had been a fan for a long time but that the standard had been slipping to a level that was now unacceptable and, if there was no improvement, I wouldn't be buying any more. With Watching the Dark I have reached that "no more, this is the last" point. The plotting is wildly inadequate. SPOILER ALERT--DON'T READ ON IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW HOW HE UNTIES THE KNOT. He gets his story so hopelessly knotted up that the only way he can get out of it is by having a long-time criminal, who has never shown any sign of taking this action, walk into the police station and say, "I want to go straight. Here's what we did." Those old enough to remember Morecambe and Wise will recall Eric finding some inanimate object--an empty suit of armour, for example--and saying "What do you think of the show so far?" to which the object would reply "Rubbish!" Well, that's how I feel about this book. In fact, I don't really know why I've given it two stars instead of one. A very, very poor effort.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2012
I am a big fan of the Banks Series and have been long before the TV series, So I couldn't wait to get my copy of the new book as soon as it came out. Unfortunately I was actually disappointed this time, which has never happened before. Banks seems to have changed his character and comes across as bei a bit shallow and childish at times. i love the fact that these books are so atmospheric and have lots of lovely detail in about North Yorkshire, but this was sadly missing this time. I am normally gripped by the 'Banks' books and can't put them down but this time I actually struggled to get through it. I can't quite put my finger on what it is that makes this book not so good as the others, it's a shame though, I wanted to enjoy it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2013
i have been reading lots of books, since i have been off work for 3 months, and happened upon, a book called "before the poison" by peter robinson. i have to say what initially attracted me was the creepy house on the cover, and as i love a thriller i was sold. i normally have trouble keeping my concentration with books, and remembering the characters, names when my mind wanders from the plot. however with this book, i was gripped. i took it too bed with me every evening, and couldn't wait to read the next chapter, and then the next!!! i am now a fully signed up fan of mr.robinson's and am currently reading "watching the dark"

i can see that there is a back catalogue of books of peters to get my teeth into, and i for one can't wait, brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 12 March 2015
This is a very good novel from Peter Robinson. Banks is investigating the death of a fellow policeman and soon gets entangled in an unsolved disappearance that the dead man had investigated. Throughout his investigation, Banks is accompanied by a Professional Standards officer, much to his chagrin, but their relationship thaws a little as they both travel to Estonia to get to the bottom of the case, which involves organised crime, slave labour, drugs and blackmail. Annie Cabbot is back too, after her serious injury, and makes a valuable contribution, leading the local investigation while Banks is abroad. A strong, tense plot, good characters, and a dark atmosphere make this a rewarding read.
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