It takes a skilled writer to find a creative way to draw readers in with the 24th novel in a series. Peter Robinson is a master storyteller, and he does just that in his new Inspector Banks outing, Sleeping in the Ground.

It’s a horrific opening: a sniper shoots a wedding party standing outside an ancient Yorkshire church, then desappears before into the hills. The casualties mount, the injuries severe where there are survivors who’ve been hit. One of the wounded is a member of Banks’ team, Winsome Jackson.

Banks is on his way back from the funeral of his first love when he gets the news. His mood is already somber, his mind cast back to those early days when he loved Emily and the world was fresh and full of promise. He’s abruptly faced with this newest devastation, and into the investigation comes an old face from twenty years ago: psychologist Jenny Fuller has returned from Australia after a divorce and been assigned to profile the killer.

Her presence adds to Bank’s mixed emotions as he examines his life and finds one important area wanting in his quiet moments alone.

Into this mess comes an unexpected house guest: Ray Cabbot, Annie’s artist father, has decamped from Cornwall and decided to move nearer his daughter, Banks’ right-hand detective. Looking for a house, Ray stays with Banks, providing music, distraction and more than enough to drink.

Then a member of a local gun and rifle club is found a few days later in his basement, an apparent suicide, with the weapon used in the carnage beside him. Case closed. Or is it?

The investigating team includes the lovely DC Gerry Masterson, whose instincts for detecting are being honed on Banks’ team. It’s a race to find a killer who just might not have finished what he started.

This is classic Robinson, with all the details here that make his series so enduring: the Yorkshire setting and the differing music Banks listens to; the strong characterizations and plot twists; and the way he makes Banks so vulnerable and so human, yet never losing his edge for his case. You’ll eat this one up quickly and wish there were more. Highly recommended.

Advertisements