All the Colours of Darkness by Peter Robinson

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All the Colours of Darkness by Peter Robinson

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The eighteenth book in the Chief Inspector Alan Banks series has a commendable freshness, excellent sense of place and is a real page turner. Recommended.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 528 Date: February 2009
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0340836941

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It was a beautiful day in the Yorkshire Dales and some children were playing in and around the river. The pleasure wasn't to last though, as they found a man's body hanging from a tree. He was Mark Hardcastle, a set designer for the Eastvale Theatre Company, who were currently presenting Othello. The obvious conclusion is that he's committed suicide but investigating officer, DI Annie Cabot, couldn't see any reason why Hardcastle would do that. The discovery of another body changed everything and Chief Inspector Alan Banks was recalled from a romantic weekend in London with his new girlfriend.

Just occasionally you have the feeling of being personally on the edge of a story and so it was with this book. Eastvale might be fictional but I know the area in which it's situated well and Peter Robinson has that part of North Yorkshire to perfection. There are some of the most stunning landscapes in the country and possibly in Europe but it's not far from the towns and cities where the rich live almost cheek by jowl with those less fortunate – the high-walled house not too far from the high-rise council estates.

It was family money which meant that one of the victims was able to live in quiet luxury. His Civil Service pay as a member of the Security Services wouldn't have made it possible, although spies have been known to feather their own nests out of the money which doesn't get accounted for on their operations. Co-incidentally, Banks' girlfriend was in Bonn at the same time as Laurence Silbert – her father was a diplomat in the Bonn embassy before it moved to Berlin. Once again I felt that tug of familiarity as I wanted to enquire if he remembered my daughter who was a Second Secretary there at the time.

The Security Services will be interested when one of their own – even if nominally retired – is murdered. I might be innocent in these matters but I did feel that the portrayal of the Security Services was extreme, almost intentionally scary and I had to suspend belief. The theme of manipulation to commit a crime was far more subtly handled, from the staging of Othello to the consideration of how this might work in a gay relationship. It was thought provoking that someone who produced the situation in which crimes were committed might not actually have committed any crime.

The story is a page-turner but I'll confess to not being surprised by the ending. Marcel Berlins writing in The Times has said that Peter Robinson has for too long, and unfairly, been in the shadow of Ian Rankin… Rankin has dominated the genre for more than a decade and with good reason. At his best his writing was superb, his plotting tight and controlled, his characters people you expected to see when you looked up from the book. Robinson is good, very good, but I'm afraid that he's not quite in Rankin's class although it has to be said that he's done well to keep the freshness of Alan Banks after a long run of books.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For another police procedural novel with a Yorkshire setting you might enjoy Grief Encounters by Stuart Pawson or A Fall from Grace by Robert Barnard.

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Buy All the Colours of Darkness by Peter Robinson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy All the Colours of Darkness by Peter Robinson at

Peter Robinson's Chief Inspector Alan Banks Novels in Chronological Order


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