By Steve E. Clark, Author and Attorney
I just finished another Peter Robinson book - In the Dark Places (HarperCollins Publishers, $25.99). This Inspector Banks book is set in rural Yorkshire and includes his usual team of detectives. At first the gang is blasé about looking into another rural theft—not as exciting as their usual stuff, but it get going quickly.
DCI Alan Banks is a morose music lover, loner, and determined detective, although he has a new and exotic Italian girlfriend in this book. His sidekick is Annie Cabbot a Detective Inspector who a few books back got shot but has now recovered at least physically though not emotionally. Another detective is the computer whiz and still another looks like Harry Potter, to the amusement of every suspect he questions. Of course there is the out of touch looming chief superintendent, who this time doesn’t give the guys and girls much grief about how they send their time or the crown’s money.
As always Robinson does a fantastic job of setting the scene in the desolate moors not far from Whitby, where Brian Stoker set his famous novel Dracula. Indeed the characters make Dracula jokes off and on through the book. Scarborough as in Scarborough Fair is also nearby and where the police locate a suspect. Both towns are on the east coast of Britain and are thoroughly charming.
An army veteran, wounded in Afghanistan, while walking his dog stumbles onto a puddle of blood in a vacant formal Royal Air Force hanger. This sends the detective team into action and later sets up a darling romance between Detective Sergeant Winsome and the disabled veteran. Winsome too is a loner originally from Jamaica, finding it hard to blend into British social life. She reluctantly finds herself attracted to her own witness, but resists. We cheer for her to give it a go.
DI Abbot bonds with the girlfriend of one of the suspects, a single mother living in dilapidated government housing. Despite evidence against the man and his girlfriend Abbot buys into their innocence, though Banks disagrees. So between all of the well-crafted characters we have romance, conflict, suspicion, and sympathy. Nobody in a short book does characters better than Robinson.
A wealthy farmer’s tractor is stolen and at first the murder and the tractor appear to have absolutely no connection. Leave it to Banks and his team to sift through the pile of hay and find the needle connecting a smuggling gang to stock brokers and prosperous farmers. As all Robinson’s writing, it’s a fast read, just complex enough, with a rewarding ending. British TV did a series on the Banks books, available here as DVDs.
I have been to the Yorkshire Moors. It’s wild and wooly country, (pun intended-lots of sheep) the national park is not large—only about 500 square miles, but it takes hours to cross because of the narrow treacherous roads. Pray you don’t meet a truck coming the other way.
It’s easy to see how the Brontë siblings wrote such depressing literature, like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. If you had to live on these moors in the dales between rugged hills, suffering the constant wind coming off the ocean (we were there in June and nearly froze to death) you would probably be depressed as well. I certainly give In the Dark Places a serious nod.
Steve E. Clark is a best selling author as seen in the New York Times. He is author of the Kristen Kerry Novels Of Suspense series. You can pick up his first book Justice Is for the Lonely here, or ask for it at your local book store. Justice Is for the Deserving is coming out in Fall 2016.
You can learn more about Steve Clark here. Steve is also an attorney at Clark+Mitchell in Oklahoma City.