Robinson, Peter. In the Dark Places.

NY: Morrow, 2015.

There have been twenty-one previous novels featuring DCI Alan Banks of Yorkshire CID and they’ve generally been quite good, earning the author a number of honors and literary awards. Banks is a fully rounded character, now facing his last few years before retirement, and the homicide squad he has slowly built up is his pride and joy, staffed by characters who are also interesting and nicely developed.

Of special interest is DI Annie Cabbot, once Banks’s lover and now his strong right hand, and who is gradually making her way back psychologically from having been shot a few books back. The six-foot-tall Jamaican Detective Sergeant, Winsome Jackman, also gets a larger part this time out.

The plot is a straightforward procedural this time, beginning with the theft of a large and very expensive tractor from a local farmer (he’s more of a hobbyist, according to his neighbors, having retired from a banking career in the City of London). At the same time, human blood is found at a deserted military air hanger, and a young man who apparently witnessed something he shouldn’t have is on the run for his life. His girlfriend and her young son are under threat from the people who want to find him, and Annie takes the younger woman under her wing as well as providing official protection. The two incidents, of course, gradually blend into a single, sprawling case involving illegal stock slaughtering, a murder committed with a rather bizarre weapon, a deadly crash in a mountain pass that reveals unexpected human body parts, and a wide range of rural crime.

In many ways, this is a somewhat routine adventure for Banks and his crew, but that’s not really a criticism. The narrative adheres closely to the real world of police work and that makes it believable. And Robinson does a very workmanlike job of telling the story.

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