Business as usual – or is it?

Thanks to Bob Moyer, here’s another British detective novel series I’ll have to try.  Hmm, I see it’s been a TV series too. 

Reviewed by Robert P. Moyer

MANY RIVERS TO CROSS: A DCI Banks Novel. By Peter Robinson. William Morrow. 336 pages. $28.99.

In the beginning, a young Syrian boy is found stuffed in a garbage bin.  In the end — the very end — DCI Banks comes up with the killer.

In between, the reader gets to follow along as the engaging and competent crew of police officers working with Banks carry on as usual. They follow leads, knock on doors, drink tea with suspects and old ladies and cover a lot of ground before they meet with Banks in a pub, where they drink various varieties of English beer. The murder was committed near a housing estate, and the clues lead them to an estate complete with its own vigilante crew; a nearby estate slightly down at the heels; and a devastated, deserted estate about to be torn down, a site full of drug dealings and popup brothels. Banks leaves his team to troll the premises while he braces the fat cats.

Like the shady developer cum tough guy who plans to build on the site. He’s implicated because of the dodgy company he keeps, and Banks keeps after him. When he’s not following leads, the DCI hangs out at home brooding about his pathetic personal life, drinking and playing a wide variety of music, which allows the author to display his wide-ranging taste (The Blues Dialogues by Rachel Barton Pines is exceptional). There’s little urgency but a lot of procedure to events leading up to the crime’s resolution.

The urgency here is in the subplot played out by Banks’ friend Zelda. A survivor of sex trafficking, she works with the police now as a facial recognition expert. She suspects that her boss was just murdered by the people who abducted and raped her, and then sold her. She sets out to find her abductor, and her progress produces significant tension — What will she do if she finds him, and what will happen to her?  The plot is a fine counterpoint to the familiar progress of Banks’ team and leaves a thread dangling for the next book in the series. 

Neither a quick read nor an edge-of-the-seat thriller, Peter Robinson’s latest still satisfies.

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