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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2008
My reviews of other books by Peter Robinson bear witness that I am a great admirer of his books. I enjoyed this one to the point I read it in one sitting, but it left me feeling slightly disappointed and unsatisfied. Why?

With favourite authors the expectation rises higher and higher with each book, so perhaps my expectations were a little unreasonable. After all, it was not a bad book, but still I didn't get into it as much as I would have liked. I have identified a few reasons.

Credibility. The story revolves around a murder and suicide. The perpetrator is soon established, but not the motive. When it comes to light that the murder victim was in the Secret Service, there is strong pressure from the spooks to close the case, despite there being many unanswered questions. Banks of course does no such thing. Fair enough, but I find it hard to believe that the Secret Service these days have no qualms about intimidation and even murder, just to protect the government's credibility (especially this one!). In fact Annie Cabbot says the same on this last point when arguing with Banks. Nor do I believe a policeman would put his own life and the lives of people he loves at risk merely to prove his theory about why the murder happened, when he knows who did it. Some suspension of disbelief is of course necessary but here, unlike his other books, there were times I found myself saying "Come on, that could NEVER happen!"

He's started to overdo the music references. I love music and it's nice to have the occasional reference to works by my favourite composers. But I don't think we need to be talked through Shostakovich's 13th Symphony in such detail - those who aren't interested in Shostakovich will surely become bored, and those who are won't be too chuffed that the text mentions a tenor solo when in fact there is no tenor solo (only a bass) in this symphony. That might sound a bit nitpicky but if we are given so much detail, it should at least be correct. In fairness to Robinson, he usually gets the details of some very obscure works absolutely right, so maybe the blame lies with some cloth-eared editor.

I'm a bit tired of the obligatory love interest too. To be fair, Robinson keeps the latest girlfriend out of the way most of the time, but if I want to read a love story I'll buy a romantic novel.

Finally, I noticed an element of sloppiness in the writing that is uncharacteristic of this author. For example, two consecutive sentences started "Annie imagined that..." and while that's not bad English, it is not quite the fluent, well thought out style I normally associate with Peter Robinson.

This author on an off day is still a heck of a lot better than many authors at their peak, and I would still recommend this book, especially if you have enjoyed the series so far. Be warned though that it is not, in my opinion anyway, one of his best.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 31 August 2008
Many of the Banks series deserve five stars. This book is not one of them and I've been generous with three stars. Two basic problems: firstly the plot just isn't good enough, secondly Robinson in common with recent books by Ian Rankin and Robert Goddard has mixed in "spooks" to what should be a police procedural.An unforgiveable twist in the plot has a major fictional terrorist incident take place in London, which means my disbelief is no longer suspended. Lazy story telling an my opinion, which explains my view that it's just not good enough.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 26 November 2008
I became a huge fan of the Inspector Banks novels after picking up Aftermath in a second-hand shop a few years ago. However I totally agree with most other reviewers that this book falls a long way short of the rest of the series.

It's commendable that there are no repetitions of old storylines throughout the Banks series, however, it seems that Peter Robinson is starting to run out of ideas for plots that can be set in North Yorkshire, with which he is obviously familiar and Banks and his colleagues are well established. Much of this novel is set in London and involves Banks undertaking investigation of MI6 activities when he's supposed to be on leave, despite orders from his superiors not to. He's also witness to a fictional terrorist attack, which appears to have no relevance whatsoever to the rest of the book. And how likely is it that Banks would be able to request to stay in the same hotel room as a suspect did a couple of weeks previously, then find a clue on a piece of paper dropped behind the radiator?

Banks does find time to get back to Yorkshire and solve a murder and suicide that are highly improbably centred around an Othello plot, yet he somehow manages to latch straight onto when he sees a production at his local theatre. The ending is completely far-fetched and I agree with a previous reviewer that it seems rushed.

Robinson also seems to be running out of ideas for Banks' relationships - when we were first introduced to him he was married, then seemingly out of the blue his wife left him and a romance with Annie Cabbot started. Soon afterwards that ran out of steam and now his relationship with new girlfriend Sophia also seems to be failing. Am I the only one getting a bit bored with this?

Almost every book I buy I keep for a second read, and maybe a third. This one I gave away to a friend straight after finishing it. I think that probably says it all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 November 2013
I have only recently 'discovered' Peter Robinson and his wonderful Inspector Banks novels. They are well planned and realistic. I love the flow and his ability to keep you guessing right to the last chapter.
Being new to this writer I have now decided to acquire all of them and to read them in the order in which they were written.
This because I identified his stories to be a refreshing insight into social history over the past few years, bringing to my attention how much we have progressed especially with respect to communications and technology. In the earlier novels, the police had to return to the car, find a phone box or ask to use a persons landline. They could find themselves in tricky situations with no means of summoning help. There is also a similar situation in the earlier days of computers, when very few officers were computer literate and saw it as a means of progression by making themselves indispensable.
Life is now so much easier for our police forces and indeed all of us.
It does not matter which of Peter Robinson's books you buy, you will get a good story, full of intrigue and thrills. Go ahead, 'get hooked' like me. Lois Rimmer JP; BSc.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 28 September 2008
Well, that was hard work. The partnership between the driven Banks and the neurotic Annie is much the same as ever, but the plot is tired and long-winded with an exceptionally silly climax. Plot sparkle has always been a hallmark - hopefully the next offering will not disappoint so comprehensively.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 May 2013
Whilst this isn't one of the best examples of Peter Robinson's work, it's certainly not as awful as some of the reviews suggest.

There are interesting moments, and the addition of MI6 gives the story an extra dimension. However, the story's greatest weakness is the plot. It's clearly influenced by Shakespeare's 'Othello', which is fine in itself, but the reader is reminded of this in almost every other chapter. On top of that, this just isn't enough to sustain a story for over 400 pages.

Also, the ending felt a bit strange too - as though Peter Robinson had had enough of writing it and just wanted to end the book there and then.

The characters are mostly well-written and vivid, with the usual exception of anyone who lives on a council estate. A sadly common folly with so many (middle-class) writers of crime fiction, who tend to depict such characters as clichéd caricatures straight from an episode of 'The Bill' - all delinquent children and peroxided single mothers.

Overall, though, an entertaining read - if you skip the dull bits.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2008
I think that Peter Robinson has been on a fine run of form in recent years but though enjoyable, his new novel is not quite as good as the previous two or three Banks novels.
For too long Banks has lived in the shadows of Ian Rankin's 'Rebus' series and has not been as well known to the public, as Banks has not become a TV tec'. This though has been a good thing for readers who can imagine Banks and his working partner Annie Cabbot as they investigate their way around this fictional part of North/West Yorkshire.
'All the Colours of Darkness' sees Banks and Cabbot investigate a suicide that has far reaching implications that involve the security services.
The characters are as ever well written and the atmosphere evocative but the plotting and story itself is weaker in this book than for some time. Annoying also is Robinson's constant name dropping that becomes so regular it almost reads as product placement.
Banks still has some miles left on the clock and this consistantly good thriller writer will I'm sure be back on top form soon.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 October 2008
I am a great fan of Peter Robinson's Alan Banks novels. I have read all, except one, and would rate him as one of the five best crime writers of all time. However, this one was a real disappointment.

The atmosphere, the conversations and the characters are as good as ever, but the plot is just plain poor and dull. The result is that it reads quite a bit like a 'contractual obligation novel'. The ideas are just not there, just the characters, setting and the skills of a seasoned writer.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 31 January 2009
A rather limp little "add on" to the Banks canon. The plot is that of a short story that has been stretched well beyond its limit. this book could well damage the future credibility of this writer who showed such great promise in his earlier books and his editor really needs to tell him to kick out the continual popular refences to music which date the book even before it is published and any writer who uses a terrorist attack for local colour no longer gets my vote. a sorry mistake, Mr Robinson
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2008
This is the eighteenth book in the Alan Banks series and while it's better than some ('Gallows View' for example) it's not up there with the very best (`In a Dry Season', `Wednesday's Child' etc). Peter Robinson NEVER repeats himself in these novels and after so many books that's quite something. And it proves he's still not tired of creating new storylines for his Detective Inspector.

Here, Banks becomes embroiled in the murky world of MI5 and MI6 when investigating an apparent murder followed by a suicide. The plot pits Banks against Secret Service operatives - but this didn't ring true for me. Alan Banks is a rural detective and would be out of his depth against such `big boys'. However, recurring series character `Dirty' Dick Burgess makes his inevitable, and welcome, appearance when Banks elicits his help in finding out some intelligence information.

'All the Colours of Darkness' cleverly uses a major plot element from `Othello' (I won't spoil it for you by mentioning which!). This is acknowledged both in the book's title - a line fragment from the play - and the fact that a local am dram group rehearse and later perform the play in the book. It's while watching the performance that Banks gets a handle on the case.

Banks finds problems with his love life when his actions bring grief to his ladyfriend. There's also a simmering undercurrent in the relationship between Banks and his DI Annie Cabbot - who sticks her neck out for him big time.

One thing I did find annoying was the constant naming of every piece of music Banks - or other characters - listen to. On his website Peter actually has a `Playlist' of music mentioned in the book. I find this a bit pretentious to be honest. We know Banks is intelligent and don't need to have the fact that he listens to Shostakovich, or choral music rammed down our throat to back this up. This is not a film, where a piece of music can greatly enhance a scene.

Peter sets up the book quite nicely but slightly botches the ending in my view, and it finishes up as a bit of a shaggy dog story. And Banks is a bit more willful than normal, pursuing a line in a case he (and Annie Cabbot) have been repeatedly told to back away from. He also acts out of character when making a sexist comment to an attractive lady. This makes him a sort of non-PC PC (yes I know he's actually a DCI, but the line wouldn't work!)

Altogether I was a little dissatisfied, but it is full of Robinson's trademark crystal clear prose. This provides for a silky smooth read with not a single jarring sentence. In all fairness there aren't many real twists. However, the characters do come alive off the page.

The consistently excellent standard of Peter's writing has led Stephen King to comment `The Alan Banks mystery-suspense novels are, simply put, the best series on the market'. Very high praise from such a great author. Mr. Robinson is indeed a fantastic writer with some outstanding novels to his credit. I've read them all and honestly believe this isn't one of them. However it's still an enjoyable read - I just expected something a little better. However, don't let my bit of griping put you off - go read it for yourself!

P.S: Unlike a previous reviewer (most of whose review I actually agree with) I have no problems with Banks's son being in a band called `The Blue Lamps'. Named after a venerable British film, I believe it does sound contemporary and is in the tradition of other bands who took their names from the movies: e.g. Fine Young Cannibals, They Might Be Giants, All About Eve - to name but three. And do look out for the typo on page 87 (first printing - don't know if it's in later reprints) where the word `fist' is used instead of `first' - taken in the context in which it is used it's fairly amusing.
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