Monday, February 11, 2019

Detective Superintendent Alan Banks Takes Charge of a Particularly Complex Investigation

This is the twenty-fourth entry in Peter Robinson's series featuring Inspector Alan Banks a member of the police department in the fictional town of Eastvale in the north of England. Through the years, Banks has risen through the ranks and is now a Detective Superintendent, overseeing a group of detectives. 

As the book opens, Banks is at a funeral. It's a particularly difficult one for him, since the woman who has died was the first girl he ever loved. While they were still in college, she broke up with him, refusing to explain why, and he had not seen or heard from her in over forty years. But as is so often the case with your first real love, Banks has never forgotten her and is deeply saddened by her death.

Banks had turned his cell phone off for the funeral and in his melancholy, forgets to turn it on until he leaves the train after arriving back home. When he turns it back on, the phone explodes with texts and voicemail messages demanding his urgent attention. A sniper has opened fire on a wedding party leaving a church in a small village near Eastvale. Seven or eight victims are down and the gunman who fired from a hillside overlooking the entrance to the church has escaped. In the confusion, only one person even caught a fleeting glimpse of him.

Banks arrives on the scene to find total chaos. Four people will ultimately die of their wounds, including the bride and the groom. One of Banks's detective who was in the party has suffered a minor wound but will recover. Banks now takes charge of an investigation that will naturally unfold under intense media pressure. Many questions need to be answered: Was this a terrorist attack? Did the gunman have an intended target or targets, or was he just firing randomly into the wedding party? Why did he select this particular wedding party?

Inevitably, this will be a very broad investigation which must look into the background of all of the victims in an effort to determine if any of them had an enemy who might have attacked them. Banks will be reunited with Jenny Fuller, a profiler from an earlier case, who will join the investigation in and effort to point them in the direction of the sort of person who might have committed such an horrendous crime. Throughout the book, he will continue to be haunted by the death of the woman he had loved.

As with any long-running series, the cast of characters is now fully familiar and it's fun to see them all back again interacting with each other. The case is an interesting one and it takes some unexpected twist and turns. The police work is solid, and the story proceeds at exactly the right pace before ending with a great climax. Another solid addition to the series.

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