Unusually for nowadays, there is only one investigation and only one crime to be solved in this book and the reader is taken along every step and through every interview until the solution is reached. This has the effect of keeping you reading to the very end.
Gavin Miller is found dead under a bridge near his ramshackle house off the beaten track. He looks like a tramp but he turns out to be an ex-college lecturer, fallen on hard times after his unfair dismissal for, supposedly, interfering with two girl students.
Although seemingly destitute, £5000 in cash is found in his pocket begging the questions, how did he come by it and why did the killer leave it behind?
Enquiries reveal he made a phone call to a local titled lady shortly before his death and D.C.I. Alan Banks is determined to follow that trail despite being warned off by his superiors. Meanwhile his erstwhile sweetheart, D.I. Annie Cabbot, together with female detectives Gerry and Winsome, go down the college route, looking for the girls who accused him and trying to find out why the spurious charges were believed.
Banks always strikes me as being a close cousin of Morse. The solitariness, despite the liking for female company; the music, more rock orientated than Morse; and the drinking, wine rather than beer.
In my Johnny Ace books, I am able to put forward some of my own views on life through the mouth of listeners phoning in to Johnny’s radio show.
Peter Robinson manages to do the same through the unspoken thoughts of his characters, chiefly DCI Banks, and it is what I most like and admire about his books. In between the serious business of solving the crime we get his take on Mrs Thatcher, the coal miners’ strikes, Russian capitalists, conditions in prison, coffee bar chains, etc etc.
Always there too is the threat of Banks's retirement/suspension and the possibility of a new romantic dalliance. Banks is a well-rounded character and one the reader can easily identify with and, for once, the TV series is every bit as good as the books.
Peter has been doing a grand job promoting this book on Facebook and I am sure he will be rewarded with another best seller. He deserves it.