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Robinson, Peter - 'Friend of the Devil'
Hardback: 432 pages (Aug. 2007) Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd ISBN: 034083689X

A quadriplegic is found sitting in her wheelchair near a cliff edge with her throat cut. DI Annie Cabbot is given the case. She has been assigned temporarily to another division and without her usual colleagues around finds the going a little tough. Annie is puzzled by the motive for murdering Karen Drew. Karen can't move or communicate. How could she possibly harm anyone enough that they would want to murder her? It can't be about money. Karen doesn't have enough for that. The only clue Annie has is a very vague description of a woman who signed herself in at the nursing home as "Mary".

Meanwhile back in Eastvale, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks is conducting an investigation into the rape and strangulation of a nineteen-year-old girl found in The Maze, a complex system of back alleys behind the main market square of the town. Hayley Daniels was attractive, loud and brash. There are any number of admirers who might have become carried away after a drunken night on the town. As the suspects are gradually eliminated Banks is left to ponder other possibilities.

Annie uncovers some shocking information about Karen's past which throws new light on a motive for her murder and realises that perhaps the two investigations do have connections. The relationship between Annie and Banks is somewhat strained. The affair they had didn't end happily and Annie in particular is struggling to come to terms with how to deal with Banks in her professional life. More murders, including one of a colleague, force the two to work together to uncover what events of the past have precipitated these deaths.

Robinson chronicles the two investigations by switching from one to the other at regular intervals - they aren't delineated by chapters. One minute you will be reading about Banks' investigation and in the next paragraph the action has changed to Annie. I found it a little confusing before I had all the characters sorted out in my head.

Peter Robinson has a huge following for his Inspector Banks series and quite rightly. He's a fine writer. I have to confess however, that I'm not a big fan of the series. I find it difficult to warm to Alan Banks. His private life is something of a soap opera which can be difficult to keep up with unless you read all the books. I also found the repeated references to the music Banks listens to distracting. Followers of the Inspector Banks series will doubtless enjoy FRIEND OF THE DEVIL. The writing is Robinson's usual high standard. I wish I could overcome my dislike of Banks to fully appreciate the series.

Sunnie Gill, Australia
October 2007

last updated 14/10/2007 15:59