March 3, 2013

Book Review: Watching the Dark

The murder of a police officer is never straightforward, but the murder of Detective Inspector Bill Reid is particularly odd: he was shot through the heart with a crossbow, and compromising photos of him with a young girl soon turn up. Was Reid a dirty cop? The powers that be seem to think so, and Inspector Alan Banks finds Professional Standards nosing around his investigation in Watching the Dark, Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks novel .

Clues emerge possibly linking Reid's murder to an infamous case involving a young woman who disappeared in Estonia six years earlier and has long been assumed dead. Banks has a hunch that there's more to it than meets the eye, however, and manages to finagle a trip to investigate.

Meanwhile, Banks's partner, D.I. Annie Cabot (who has just returned to the job after months of rehab following a serious injury), follows a trail Reid had been investigating before he died. It leads to a series of reprehensible criminals and human traffickers--but are they connected to Reid's murder?

Robinson has created a stubbornly likable detective whose sharp perception of the world around him transports the reader into the case. Banks remains unflappable and obstinate as he focuses on catching Reid's killer. The Estonian angle also offers a bit of a twist on Robinson's usual English setting, giving an intriguing glimpse into how much life in Estonia has changed since the Soviet Union collapsed.

Fans of Peter Robinson (or Ian Rankin) are bound to like Watching the Dark, as is anyone who enjoys a thoughtful, multi-layered whodunit.

I can't quite put my finger on why - but I'm not the biggest Peter Robinson fan. I think I find Alan Banks a little too pedantic. But this is only the 2nd, out of the 20, that I've read... so maybe I'll give Robinson another chance later. And, Watching the Dark did give me a really strong urge to go to Estonia, which is something that's never happened before, so it was compelling on that level.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Maybe, if she doesn't mind some human trafficking/sex in her mysteries. I originally wrote this review for Shelf Awareness. This post contains affiliate links.

Have you read Peter Robinson? Been to Estonia?