Robinson, Peter. All the Colors of Darkness.

NY: Morrow, 2009.

This is one of the more unsettling episodes in the career of DCI Alan Banks of the North Yorkshire CID. Mark Hardcastle, a local theater set designer from a working class background, is found hanging from a tree in the woods near Eastvale. He was gay and was in a relationship with Laurence Silbert, who had money and a big house — but when the police go to see the latter, they find Silbert viciously beaten to death. Was it a murder-suicide caused by jealousy?

Banks and DI Annie Cabbott assume so, but then facts begin to surface about Silbert’s career with MI6. And then the secret intelligence services begin to turn up in the investigation, bugging residences, destroying personal property, threatening private detectives and policemen. In other words, behaving like spooks. The deeper he gets into his investigation — which the Superintendent and her own superiors have warned him away from — the more justifiably paranoid he becomes. Even when it begins to become clear that a third party might have pulled an Iago — played astutely on Hardcastle’s insecurities to provoke a split between him and his lover — there are no actual charges Banks can bring. But that won’t satisfy the darker forces of the government. The thing is, I have no doubt that various official agencies, both in Britain and the U.S., actually do behave this way when it suits their purposes. The melodrama is rather overdone, though, and the many, many references to the music Banks listens to and the wines he drinks are really beginning to intrude on the plots. I think Robinson needs to retreat a bit in his narrative style before he loses control of his characters completely.

Published in: on 9 November 2010 at 7:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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