On a cliff edge overlooking the North Sea, a quadriplegic woman in a wheelchair stares unseeingly at the waves. She had been murdered. And, miles away, in a storeroom in the Maze, a medieval warren of yards and alleys at the heart of Eastvale, Yorkshire, a young woman lies sprawled on a heap of leather scraps. She too has been murdered. Their bodies are discovered at about the same time that DI Annie Cabbot, on secondment to the Eastern Area force, wakes with a severe hangover in the bed of a young man she barely recognizes. From these three strands, Peter Robinson weaves his latest complex and compelling story.
While DCI Alan Banks tries to figure out how anyone was able to murder Hayley Daniels, when the closed-circuit cameras trained on the entrances to the Maze show that no one preceded or followed her into its shadows, Cabbot learns two things that make her blood run cold: the real intentions of her one-night stand and the true identity of the quadriplegic woman. A ghost from the past is back to haunt both her and Banks.
Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks novels are among the best detective fiction in the world, and their multi-layered stories continue to surprise, engross, thrill, and delight readers. Friend of the Devil is a superb showcase of how deftly he balances horror with humour, police procedures with the nuances of all-too-human emotions, and endings with the promise of new starts. Once again, Robinson transcends the usual limits of the genre in this dazzling novel about the obsessive power of vengeance.
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When Karen Drew is found sitting in her wheelchair staring out to sea with her throat cut one chilly March morning, DI Annie Cabbot, on loan to Eastern Area, gets lumbered with the case. Back in Eastvale, that same Sunday morning, 19-year-old Hayley Daniels is found raped and strangled in the Maze, a tangle of narrow alleys behind Eastvale's market square, after a drunken night on the town with a group of friends, and DCI Alan Banks is called in. Banks finds suspects galore, while Annie seems to hit a brick wall--until she reaches a breakthrough that spins her case in a shocking and surprising new direction, one that also involves Banks.
Then another incident occurs in the Maze which seems to link the two cases in a bizarre and mysterious way. As Banks and Annie dig into the past to uncover the deeper connections, they find themselves also dealing with the emotional baggage and personal demons of their own relationship. And it soon becomes clear that there are two killers in their midst, and that at any moment either one might strike again.
Whatever the profession (from medicine to cuisine), it's always good to sit back and relax, knowing that you're in the hands of a consummate professional. So it is with crime fiction, and Peter Robinson is one of the most reliable names around. He has written 17 books in his much-acclaimed Inspector Bank series ( Friend of the Devil is the 17th), and his writing has the confidence that is commensurate with the best in the field.
DI Annie Cabbot is on loan to another area (and is not working with her colleague, Chief Inspector Alan Banks), and finds herself saddled with a difficult case. A womanís body is found in a wheelchair by the sea. Her throat has been ripped open. At the same time, a teenage girl has been raped and murdered after an alcohol-fuelled night out. DCI Banks is dealing with another case. The two detectives experience very dissimilar results: Banks is faced with a multiplicity of suspects, while Annie Cabbot makes absolutely no progress in her case. Those familiar with detective fiction won't be surprised to learn that the various cases turn out to be interrelated, and when the duo begin to make considerable inroads into the mysteries, they find that aspects of their own pasts are coming back to haunt them. And a burning question becomes ever more pertinent: just how many killers are involved in these cases?
We may be used to relationships between male and female detectives that alternate between the fractious and the reluctantly affectionate, but Peter Robinson has always been able to steer a very confident route down this particular avenue, always firmly keeping cliché at bay. But (as always with this author), the plotís the thing to catch the attention of the reader, and Friend of the Devil works out a labyrinthine narrative with a particularly pleasing attention to detail. --Barry Forshaw
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