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Latest Alan Banks mystery a strong entry

All the Colors of Darkness
All the Colors of Darkness
By Peter Robinson

William Morrow: 2009

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This review first appeared in the March 1, 2009 issue of the North County Times.

The latest entry in Peter Robinson's Inspector Alan Banks series doesn't require familiarity with any of the previous 17 books about the Yorkshire detective. Robinson's matter-of-fact conversational style couples with enough of Banks' back story so that "All the Colors of Darkness" easily stands on its own.

It also contains a stellar mystery – well, two mysteries, in fact, which seems to be the style among the best mystery writers these days, which Robinson most certainly is.

A local theater producer is found hanged from a tree in the woods; when officers go to inform his gay partner, they find him brutally murdered – not what the neighbors in his tony section of town want to hear.

Banks is on vacation with his new love interest when this happens, but his detective partner, Annie Cabbot, is ordered by their superior to call him back in when it turns out the murdered man is a member of the chief's private club.

Just as Banks and Cabbot start piecing enough of the murder together to begin wondering whether the suicide really was, the chief orders the case closed as solved and Banks sent back on holiday.

Banks keeps nosing around on his own time, though, and finds himself wondering what is really going on when Britain's intelligence services tell him to back off.

For an American reader, it's a bit exotic reading this book set in Yorkshire – spending time with Banks as he takes his tea, listens to his vast music collection (ranging from Keren Ann to Richard Hawley to the classics), eats roast lamb for dinner and drinks the local beers. For the most part, the American edition uses U.S. spellings (witness the title), but the very-British charm of the setting and characters is still present.

And as with all good mystery series, the ending is tidy, but not so tidy that fans of Banks won't want to know what the next novel in this series brings him.