Cold is the Grave

Reviewed: February 5, 2008
By: Peter Robinson
Publisher: Penguin Books
451 pages, $10.99

The first 89 pages of this Inspector Alan Banks mystery read like a complete story in itself, and I was almost sorry when Banks’ under the radar quest to rescue the daughter of his superior officer came to an end. It turns out, however, that the rescuing of Emily Riddle is just the beginning of a larger case that takes a frightening turn 70 pages further on when Banks finds Emily again - only this time he can’t save her.

What does this death have to do with the shady London underworld of pop stars and drugs? What does it have to do with the death of a low level thief who seemed to have found himself steady employment in a local mall? What about the fly-by-night computer company that disappeared so suddenly? What is the secret that the Riddle family has worked so hard to hide all these years, but which has come back to haunt them?

There are all professional matters.

On the other hand, Banks has to come to terms with the broken relationship between himself and his ex-wife, steel himself against the dependent flirtations of his boss’s wife, and sort out his relationships with a couple of colleagues.

There is another narrative strand to this story, and that belongs to Detective Sergeant Annie Cabbot, the colleague with whom Banks has once had an affair. Annie and Banks have to work out how they will get along with each other, but Annie has a deeper demon to exorcise. There are been another murder in a nearby jurisdiction and the officer sent to Eastvale to liaise with Banks’ team is one of the men who had nearly raped her while on the job in London earlier in her career.

Robinson is very good at giving his readers lots of reasons to keep those pages turning.

Earlier books in the series are available both as individual volumes and in anthology collections. I’ve been reading the older books in order, but every so often I dip into a later volume as I did here.