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Alison S. Coad
5.0 out of 5 starsTerrific, As Always
Reviewed in the United States on January 8, 2017
When a cop is murdered by crossbow while at a convalescent home for injured officers, it doesn’t take long for DI Annie Cabbot and DCI Alan Banks to realize that another, seemingly unrelated, murder nearby by is connected. Their investigation leads them to the unsavory world of human trafficking and loan-shark secured exploitation, and it leads them back to a disappearance of a young English girl six years earlier in Estonia, very far from Eastvale indeed…. "Watching the Dark" is the 20th novel in the Inspector Banks series, and as we’ve come to expect by now, there are a lot of layers and a lot of things going on, just as the human characters are complex and layered themselves. I’m undecided whether it’s necessary to have read all the books in order, although as always with a series like this it does help to deepen the reader’s understanding of the primary characters. But each mystery itself is a stand-alone and therefore any one of the books could work as an entry point in the series; and of course, in my opinion, once you start reading Mr. Robinson’s work, you won’t want to stop! Recommended.
This is the first book I've read by this author. Since this is book 20, I suspect I've missed a lot of Banks' personal life, and by the events in his recent life that were referenced while reading the book, I'm pretty sure I'm right. Even with that, I didn't have any issues keeping up with what was going on.
Banks is called out to the murder of a man who's been killed by a crossbow. Since he's dealing with a cop, the case ends up making Banks work with Professional Services. He's not happy about it, especially since his partner, Annie, is coming back after recovering from a serious injury.
As the case progresses, Banks discovers that this isn't just a murder investigation. There's also a missing girl, blackmail, immigrants who are being mistreated, and corruption. Banks believes the murder and the disappearance of the girl are connected, but he has some trouble getting others to agree with him.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It's a little on the long side, and like most books I read that are this length, it could have been shorter. With it's length and the amount of twists and turns, it's no wonder that every case on the TV series is two episodes long! I found that the length didn't bother me, though. There is some minimal language and references to sex and rape in there.
Reviewed in the United States on September 25, 2015
This is the second Peter Robinson book for me, though I've been enjoying the PBS "Mystery" series for some time. It is also tightly constructed with page turning anticipation and a greater depth of his cast of characters. "Watching the Dark" was written several years after the last one I read, and Robinson has really honed his skillful way of setting scenes and raising the reader's anticipation of the next action. He brings us up to contemporary times and current police procedures. At the same time, he tracks two different aspects of the same story, one in Great Britain and the other in Tallin, and bounces scenes back and forth while building greater suspense. We see a new side of DCI Banks when he's teamed with a member of Britain's "rat squad" (Police Practices division), a lady cop who challenges his motives while interfering with his procedural regimen. The conflict resolves quite interestingly and somewhat surprisingly. It's a smashingly good read.
I have read quite a few Inspector Banks novels by Peter Robinson and though I’ve read them out of order (Which is fine to do) I’ve grown very fond of the ethical, gruff and clever DCI Banks and have read enough to be both rewarded and frustrated by where he’s at professionally and personally now – as I’m sure Robinson intends. Watching the Dark is the twentieth book in the Banks series and in this novel we find the intrepid inspector investigating the murder of a convalescing peer, DI Bill Quinn, a man recently widowed and who, for some reason, never quite recovered from not being able to solve a case from six years ago about a young English woman who went missing in Estonia. When Quinn is found dead with a crossbow in his chest, and compromising photos are found in his room, Professional Standards in the form of the lovely Joanna Passero arrives to partner an irascible Banks on the case. Not long after Passero is assigned, another man, who appears to be an illegal European immigrant, is also found murdered. Connections between Quinn and this man and the cold case of the young woman start to emerge. It’s at that point that Banks understands he has to travel to Estonia and perhaps solve an old case in order to bring the current one to a close and find the killer. Given permission to travel overseas, he is furious and frustrated to discover that Passero is to accompany him. Able to get under his skin, it’s not sparks that fly so much as hair and teeth when Passero and Banks are forced to work closely together. Added to this is the fact that Banks’ old partner, Annie, who has also just come out of extended convalescence, has returned to work. Determined to find form and fast, Annie refuses the favours offered by Banks and their boss, except where it means being treated as a fully-functioning member of the team. Throwing herself back into her job, she’s forced to confront her fears and memories and finds, once she becomes heavily involved in the case that the professional can be and is personal as well. Nothing and no-one is as they seem in this case and the further Banks and Annie delve, the darker and deeper they’re drawn into the shady world of prostitution, illegal immigrants and drugs and the cruelty that other humans can and do inflict upon each other… I find the more I read these books and love them, the more uneven they can be as well. Robinson has a fabulous way of bringing the characters to life on the page but sometimes, just sometimes, their actions don’t always ring quite true and seem to solve a particular narrative purpose rather than be part of their motivation. For me, one example here, was the relationship between Passaro and Banks. While initially we understood that Banks was annoyed and felt hobbled by the presence of someone from Professional Standards, when he and Passaro have it out and, in his own mind he acknowledges that his beloved Annie also worked for that section and she’s not tainted, past novels tell us that Banks would have moved on and work at building the professional relationship with Passero. In this novel, it doesn’t happen and Banks’ attitude to Passero, particularly when they’re in Estonia and he reverts back to resentment, galled a bit. Banks is not a misogynist though, typical of his generation, he struggles sometimes with women and what they want, but he has always been respectful and appreciative of what they bring to their professional roles and the workplace – this is proven with Annie. With Passero, he becomes, as Winsome accuses him at one stage, childish. But then again, I also put this behaviour down to a growing sexual attraction that he might feel for Passero and the emotional toing and froing that can cause. Likewise, after Passero unloads to Banks about her personal life, the door is open down the track for romance, so perhaps my comments are unfair and this is what Robinson was setting up; but there were times in their relationship at least that the Banks we’ve grown to know and I guess rely on to be stable was not and that was disconcerting. Love might explain a great deal, however ☺ Robinson also explores the seamy and seedy side of the underworld with ease, introducing characters you hope you never meet on a dark night. While at the same time, he also manages to bring the beauty of Estonia to life, the novel sometimes reading like a travel book, but as seen through Alan Banks’ eyes – not a bad way to view another country and culture. Overall, I really enjoyed this book as I have the other Banks in the series and will look forward to trawling back and discovering more of his life and cases and fleshing out the holes that currently exist in my knowledge of DCI Banks.
4.0 out of 5 starsSo is Stefan Nowak an inspector or ...........
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 29, 2019
..... a sergeant?
He has been referred to in previous books as promoted from DS with Annie Cabbott mentioning his higher rank. Now called DS Nowak again!! Bad enough in lesser authors but I expect better of Robinson. And as Banks ponders in the final lines the story ends with the instruction
COPY THE TWO LINES OF HTML BELOW, INCLUDING the nbsp line TO ADD TO THE END OF A CHAPTER.
OK, nit picking. Maybe.
When you have a good story and enjoy the prose/text in which it is written these are irritations that the reader might expect to be resolved. The first by Robinson remembering what he has previously written and the end piece by editorial staff reading the request and........ whatever.
Great story. In this instance he has used a format seen in PLAYING WITH FIRE with a single investigation spawning a second course of action. Annie solves the original while Banks has a foreign jaunt intended as part of the original but resolving his obsession when sidetracked by an old case of the first victim.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 12, 2015
DI Bill Quinn is killed by a crossbow bolt in the grounds of a police convalescent home. DI Alan Banks and his team at first think it could be a revenge attack which probably means searching through all his previous cases to find out who could have wished him dead and been in a position to carry out the crime. But there is a hint of police corruption in the air and Joanna Passero of Professional Standards is allocated to shadow the team. DI Annie Cabbot - newly returned to work following her injury in the previous book in the series is gradually finding her feet again.
This is an interesting story featuring several strands including a missing young woman from six years ago, illegal migrant labour and another murder. In fact there are almost too many strands to the story so to me it came over as a little fragmented and I did lose track of the plot part way through and had to go back and refresh my memory. To a certain extent it is redeemed by the ending which I thought was satisfying.
Inevitably in any long running series you get some books which aren't as good as others. Overall though this series is of excellent quality with believable and interesting characters, an authentic background and well constructed plots.
The 20th DCI Banks novel is not one of his best, although in a series as long and as entertaining as this the author may be forgiven the odd occasion when he misses his own high standard. It's just that you feel Banks himself needs to get out of his rut and pick up some new and more positive interests, rugby or county cricket or pub quiz nights for example, instead of obsessively wallowing in his CDs and downloads of obscure (and vaguely depressing) musicians, composers and singers - I keep expecting him any minute to drag out his old Leonard Cohen vinyls from the loft, although Cohen is probably too well-known to interest Banks these days. It all gets a tad tedious for the faithful reader, as do the detailed recitals of the author's research into foreign or exotic locations - Estonia in this case - which are o so clearly intended to assist verisimilitude but may as well be street maps of Redruth or Rotherham for all they do to aid the plot. The plot in fact is quite a good one, and the sense of moving forwards methodically to a solution of the crimes is well-handled. Don't let me put you off - Banks is maybe the best British police/procedural around!
Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks continues with his crime fighting in Yorkshire, but this time the crime leads him to Estonia. A country not in the public eye, but one that comes alive under Peter Robinson's writing.
DCI Banks is investigating the death of a colleague, DI Bill Quinn. He was killed on the grounds of a rehab for professional policemen. DS Annie Cabbott happens to be at the same rehab recovering from a work related injury. She has recovered enough to return to work, and she is the most trustworthy of Banks colleagues. While investigation continues, compromising photographs are found with Quinn and a young woman. That and other clues suggest police corruption,and a young very attractive Inspector Joanna Passero from Professional Standards is assigned to work with Banks. She goes with him to Estonia to follow up leads. All of this seems quite out of hand to me, and suggests a romance and a method to introduce a new character. All of this leads to a missing teenager, migrant labor issues, people trafficking and the afore mentioned police corruption.
This is a very fast paced novel. The 20th novel involving DCI Banks, and I have read them all. Moving the crime enviornment to Estonia is a fascinating asset to this novel. The description and culture of Estonia has given me a different and new perspective of that part of the world. The crime involving greed and corruption is a new avenue for DCI Banks, and a most welcome one. Well done, Peter Robinson.
2.0 out of 5 starsI'm closing the door on Peter Robinson
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 30, 2013
I said in a review of one of Peter Robinson's recent books that I had been a fan for a long time but that the standard had been slipping to a level that was now unacceptable and, if there was no improvement, I wouldn't be buying any more. With Watching the Dark I have reached that "no more, this is the last" point. The plotting is wildly inadequate. SPOILER ALERT--DON'T READ ON IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW HOW HE UNTIES THE KNOT. He gets his story so hopelessly knotted up that the only way he can get out of it is by having a long-time criminal, who has never shown any sign of taking this action, walk into the police station and say, "I want to go straight. Here's what we did." Those old enough to remember Morecambe and Wise will recall Eric finding some inanimate object--an empty suit of armour, for example--and saying "What do you think of the show so far?" to which the object would reply "Rubbish!" Well, that's how I feel about this book. In fact, I don't really know why I've given it two stars instead of one. A very, very poor effort.