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Entertaining Detective Novel
on 19 August 2013
Peter Robinson's new DCI Banks novel is an exemplary study of investigative detective work into Gavin Miller, a 59 year old desperate man who has plummeted from a bridge onto a disused railway line. A post-mortem showed signs of a scuffle before death. He had £5,000 of untraceable notes in his pocket. No motives or forensic evidence apparent. DCI Banks is behind his formidable team of detectives Annie Cabbot, Geraldine (Gerry) Masterson and physically imposing Winsome Jackson.
With little to go on the team are determined to unravel the death that reeks of murder. Tracing the background of Miller opens a can of worms stretching back to Essex University in the early 1970's during the miners' strike and their flying pickets. His latter role as a lecturer at Eastvale College where he was disgracefully dismissed for sexual allegations are relevant. The connections of Miller are the crux of the novel. His involvement with prominent titled figures, notably Lady Veronica Chalmers (known as Ronnie) who was at University with Miller is an interesting find. She is now married to an influential theatrical producer who is wealthy, influential and they have relatives with high political ambitions.
The author spins a fine web of deception and intrigue with his stylish narrative and prose accompanied by cracking dialogue. It starts with a straightforward investigation but cleverly involves many characters who are not who they seem, hiding numerous secrets for personal reasons, with Miller the maltreated individual. The female detectives are remorseless and thorough in their pursuit of the truth and justice despite the reticence of their interviewees with Banks taking a laid back presence but always in charge, directing and controlling proceedings.
Gradually the truth is extracted with some neat twists. The experienced, houndog DCI Banks doesn't play to the book but his superiors realise he delivers the goods. Even MI5 approve. An excellent and captivating novel that takes many turns and unexpected spins, focusing on a single murder, for a change, more than justifying the continuation of the DCI Banks series. There is even a hint of romance at the end.