Sleeping in the Ground by Peter Robinson
|Sleeping in the Ground by Peter Robinson|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Returning from a funeral Det. Supt. Banks is faced with a massacre at a wedding. An intriguing look at where you go when clues are very thin on the ground. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384/10h0m||Date: July 2017|
|Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton|
|External links: Author's website|
It was the sort of display which would have been better in black and white and without a sound track, but what happened at the Red Wedding, as it would come to be known, was noisy, brutal and fatal. A sniper on a distant hillside began shooting at the wedding party: three people, including the bride died immediately. Another two, including the bridegroom would die soon afterwards. Terry Gilchrist saw the shooter disappearing over the hillside, but the armed response officers were unwilling to take his word for it when they finally arrived and it was a further three-quarters of an hour before they gave clearance for the paramedics to come to the scene. It would be this delay which made the headlines before too long.
Detective Superintendent Alan Banks was at a funeral when the shooting happened: the first woman he had ever loved was dead and he was left feeling melancholy. It wasn't the best state of mind for the problem he was facing: how do you track down an unknown killer who had a considerable head start and when there was no obvious motive for the massacre. The answer is, of course, by dedicated police work, following up small leads and hoping that when you tug one thread it will unravel the conundrum. Sometimes, though, what seems obvious is not the right answer.
I was grabbed as soon as I started reading: there was a horrible fascination about the scene at the church and I couldn't lose the sense of frustration I felt as the victims were left untreated. There's a hint that cuts to the police budget might have reduced the AFO teams available, but there are no political axes being ground here. Similarly with the refusal to allow the emergency services onto the site: it might seem cruel to leave victims in agony and possibly ensure that they have no hope of recovery, but there's no sense in providing more targets if the shooter - or an accomplice - might still be in the vicinity. I don't think I breathed until I finished the first chapter and then there was no way I was putting the book down until I had to.
The contrast between the sleepy, picturesque country church and the brutal massacre is effective. Is it a terrorist attack? But the reasoning is that terrorists usually go for greater impact - or is this an attempt to prove that nowhere is safe? Was the attack just random with no logical motive, the result of a psychopathic need to kill? Or is there reason and planning behind the attack? The police team work well, with the spotlight on Banks himself, Annie Cabot and Gerry Masterson. They're supplemented by a forensic psychologist and old friend of Alan Banks, Professor Jenny Fuller. It's an effective team and Peter Robinson plays the ups and downs of the personal relationships well. It's compelling, with a very satisfying conclusion.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
There are references to other cases in the series. The setting of much of the action - Swainsdale, was also the location for the fourth book in the series, but there are no spoilers and whilst there is an ongoing background story there's no great problem with reading the books out of order. Sleeping in the Ground would read perfectly well as a standalone, as you'll catch up quickly with the stories behind the relationships of the main characters. If you do want to read the books in chronological order you'll find the list here.
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