Robinson, Peter. When the Music’s Over.

NY: Morrow, 2016.

This is the 23rd installment in the professional adventures of DCI Alan Banks of East Yorkshire CID and I’m pleased to see that the series continues as strong as ever. Things change, though, and Banks has recently been promoted to Detective Superintendent, which involves more meetings and much more paperwork than he would like. But he’s not going to let that keep him from getting closely involved in his team’s cases, of which there are two this time.

First is a high-level investigation into the alleged sex crimes many years ago of celebrity entertainer Danny Caxton (think Jimmy Savile and, more recently, Bill Cosby, both of whom are frequently mentioned). After forty years, it’s a very cold case indeed. There are few witnesses and the evidence and reports of the time have conveniently disappeared — but a woman, a noted poet now in her sixties, is willing to go on the stand and recount what happened to her. In fact, she was raped not only by the principle subject of the investigation but also by one of his minions, which is what opens up the case and expands it into murder.

At the same time, DI Annie Cabbott, Banks’s ex-lover, close friend, and strong right arm, has to deal with the death of a young girl who was multiply raped and thrown out of a moving van on a lonely country road — and then murdered a few minutes later, apparently by someone else entirely. Puzzling that one out leads her and DS Winsome Jackman and DC Gerry Masterson — both well-done supporting characters with their own talents and issues — to an economically depressed estate on the edge of their territory where the presence of a large British-Pakistani community is causing tensions to rise.

Of course, the two cases are parallel in various ways, with the ,author making a point about the arrogant entitlement of those in power, or the refusal by immigrants to adapt to local standards. In the cold case, we know who dunnit, but the suspense is in watching Banks make his case for the Crown Prosecutors. In the present-day rape and murder, it’s in trying to figure out which of numerous dodgy characters is the culprit. Robinson is at the top of his form and even though parts of the narrative will make you distinctively uncomfortable, it will hold your attention.


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