STRANGE AFFAIR by Peter Robinson


Strange AffairStrange Affair is the fifteenth book in the Inspector Banks series, following Playing with Fire.

“Eastvale is modelled on North Yorkshire towns such as Ripon and Richmond, with cobbled maket squares, rather than the kind with one main high street, like Northalleron or Thirsk. I had to make it much larger than those towns, of course, otherwise who would believe there could be that many murders? I’ve probably killed the population of the Yorkshire Dales three times over as it is! Anyway, Eastvale continues to grow, and the great thing is that I can add new areas of the town that I have never mentioned before, such as The Maze in Friend of the Devil and The Heights in All the Colours of Darkness . In location, I have taken a few more liberties and placed Eastvale a little north of Ripon, but still reasonably close to the A1. When Banks has to get there fast from central Leeds, he can do it in a little under three-quarters of an hour if he puts his foot down. The surrounding countryside and villages are an amalgam of several dales, particularly Wensleydale and Swaledale. I based Helmthorpe and Gratly on Hawes and Gayle, for example, and Lyndgarth on Reeth. Though I have changed names and locations, I know where all my fictional places really are.

From Peter Robinson’s website:

Just like those other fictional towns of Midsomer or Lydmouth, the murder rate in Eastvale and its surrounds is high. It is rather surprising that there are any victims left to be done away with. Fortunately for those readers, like me, who have become devoted followers of  DCI Alan Banks and DI Annie Cabbott, the murders continue and this time things strike close to home when Roy Banks, younger brother of Alan, goes missing.

While Annie tackles the murder of a young woman in the Eastvale precinct, Banks goes to London to find his brother. Inevitably, the two investigations cross paths with both roads leading to London. What follows is a tale of drugs, prostitution, people smuggling and murder. DCI Banks has another narrow escape from death. In Playing with Fire Bank’s almost met his match with a serial killer who set fire to his home burning everything Bank’s held dear. Fortunately for Banks, when the killer came calling this time, Bank’s was living elsewhere, while his house was being rebuilt.

Robinson’s writing is sparse. Both plot and dialogue move at a cracking pace. While Banks is, on occasion, given to reflective thinking, he soon shakes himself out of it. In this book, we meet a depressed Banks but even his depression is written in a believable manner. He reflects momentarily on being a material  man or more accurately, his feelings on being a man without material possession – everything, photos, school reports, favourite books and CDs were destroyed by the fire. But at no time is Banks maudlin as he comes to terms with the record of his life lost to flames.

Banks and Annie solve their crimes, or perhaps that should be joint crime, as both investigations join-up.

One of the reasons I really enjoy Robinson is that although murder abounds, and the villains are as nasty as any you could wish for, there is an intelligence about Banks that is appealing.  I do not like reading about blood and guts murders and Robinson does not give them to his readers. Instead, he has a reasonably intelligent, sometimes stubborn, oft flawed protagonist who quietly goes his own way. And annoys colleagues and bosses in the process.

Title: Strange Affair

Author: Peter Robinson

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Ltd 2005


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