Saturday, July 08, 2006

Strange Affair by Peter Robinson

It took me so long to get around to reading this fifteenth book in the "Inspector Banks" series that the sixteenth book has already been released in hardcover! That's the curse of having too many books on your shelf and not enough time to read them all.

In this installment, DCI Alan Banks receives a troubling phone message from his estranged brother, Roy, a slightly shady businessman who lives down in London. Banks drops everything to go and investigate when he's unable to reach Roy on the phone. Meanwhile, in Yorkshire, Banks's colleagues are frantically looking for him after a search of a murder victim's pockets reveals a slip of paper with Banks's name and address written on it. Not surprisingly, Roy's fate is closely intertwined with that of the murdered woman, and it's up to Banks and his colleagues in both Yorkshire and London to figure things out.

Mystery novels in an established series like this one need a careful balance between action, investigation and character development and I felt that this book focused so much on the latter two that the action suffered. For that reason, I don't think this novel would be a good introduction to Robinson's writing; there is very little tension and no cliffhanger ending. I was able to close the book, turn out the light and go to sleep when I was only 40 pages from the end! For Inspector Banks fans, though, Strange Affair is obviously a must-read as there are a lot of important developments in his personal life. I look forward to finding out what happens in the next book, Piece of my Heart.

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