In A Dry Season Mass Market Paperback – May 11 2000
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|Mass Market Paperback, May 11 2000||
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On the outs with their superiors, Detective Inspector Banks and Detective Sergeant Annie Cabbot are lumbered with a case that is supposed to frustrate and annoy them--and find the challenge fascinating. When a reservoir dries out, a flooded village emerges and a boy finds a skeleton buried in an outhouse--by solid police work, and the use of experts, Banks and Cabbot find out who she was and when she died, and then have to find out why. The reader knows more than they do of course--elderly crime writer Vivien has written her own account of what happened during World War Two when she was an intense unhappy teenager, and this is presented in alternate chapters--but there are surprises still in store... An intense sense of period and a celebration of the virtues of solid investigation, this admirable combination of the police procedural and the psychological period thriller was nominated for the Edgar, the US crime writers' best of the year award. Peter Robinson's acute portrayal of his flawed, humane detectives and the charismatic doomed victim the truth of whose death they are trying to uncover has a desperate sadness which comes together in a climax of unexpected power. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Anyone who loves a good mystery should curl up gratefully with a cuppa to enjoy this rich 10th installment of the acclaimed British police procedural series. Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, on the skids since the breakup with wife Sandra, languishes in "career Siberia" until old nemesis Chief Constable Riddle sends him to remotest Yorkshire on a "dirty, pointless, dead-end case." It seems a local kid has discovered a skeleton in dried-up Thornfield Reservoir, constructed on the site of the deserted bucolic village of Hobb's End. Banks taps into his familiar network of colleagues to identify the skeleton as that of Gloria Shackleton, a gorgeous, provocative "land girl" who worked on a Hobb's End farm while her husband was off fighting the Japanese decades ago. Apparently, Gloria had been stabbed to death. As Banks and Detective Sergeant Annie Cabbot struggle to re-create the 50-year-old crime scene, wartime Yorkshire, with all its deprivations and depravities, springs to life. (Banks revives, too, showing renewed interest in his job, and in women.) Robinson brilliantly interweaves the story of Banks's investigation with an ambiguous manuscript by detective novelist "Vivian Elmsley," a 70-ish woman once Gloria's sister-in-law. Is the manuscript a memoir of events leading to Gloria's vicious murder, or "all just a story"? Either way, every detail rings true. Once again, Robinson's work stands out for its psychological and moral complexity, its startling evocation of pastoral England and its gritty, compassionate portrayal of modern sleuthing. Agent, Dominick Abel. Author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I have been a fan of Peter Robinson and his protagonist Alan Banks from the beginning and this book is one of the best I have read so far. When a dry season empties a reservoir and exposes the remains of a 50 year-old village, a young boy discovers a skeleton, an apparent a murder victim from the wartime. Banks and local detective Sargent, Annie Cabbot, begin to untangle the relationships of old and in a beautiful recreation of that time of blackout lights and Glenn Miller in the diary of a contemporary of the murder victim, the secret lives and lusts of the old village and its inhabitants. The two stories, the diary and the present investigation, flow contiguously and powerfully, drawing the reader along at a furious pace. The clues a subtle and the ending somewhat of a surprise.
Bank's marriage has fallen apart and as he struggles with the changes in his life and those of his children, Robinson presents a very credible sub plot. The falling into bed with Annie and the resulting shift in their perceptions of each other is brilliantly written and quite believable. The last book I read nearly this good was also by Peter Robinson. Highly recommended to all mystery fans.
The man chosen for the job is DI Alan Banks. He's been out of favour with his superiors, prompting his selection for what sees to be a hopeless, dead-end job. But, through determination, perseverance and help from local sergeant, Annie Cabbot, he makes slow progress.
Peter Robinson alternates between the present and the past in an effective narration of the story. By doing this, we are treated to both the lead up and the aftermath of a time surround by turmoil. As Inspector Banks uncovers clues and chases up leads, we are taken back to when it all took place and get to witness every detail first hand. It really is a technique that works extraordinarily well.
As far as police procedurals go, this ranks very highly with pieces of the puzzle revealing a more and more tragic story, leading right up to the consequences played out in the climactic present-day scenes. This is definitely a book to put on your must-read list, particularly if you are a fan of well-constructed mysteries.
Perhaps most impressive are the diary extracts that tell of life in a tiny Yorkshire village during the War. The voice of the narrator we know is the echo of a million other British voices during those days. Rationing, blackout, land armies and American servicemen all take their place in the reminiscing pages to paint a detailed picture of the life and times of the victim, Gloria.
Interspersed there is the police investigation and the trials and tribulations of Robinson's very readable hero, Banks. Difficulties with the boss, ex-wife, son and colleague are juggled admirably by the author who moulds all the rich ingredients into one fast-paced, enjoyable read. Refreshingly, he decides against falling into the ever present trap of saying too much or adding one twist too many, choosing instead to deliver a cameo of shocks in the epilogue. Just when I thought I had finished, there was another couple of pages that caused the eyebrows to raise and the grey matter to think again at what I had just read.
I would like to read more of Banks books, but I am wary that the actual subject matter in this novel will far surpass any that appears in the other ten or so volumes. One day I am sure I will have done the set, so to speak, but for now I am going to be content with having had the pleasure of reading this as a brilliant one-off.
My only disappointment was the fact that, like others who have reviewed the book, I guessed very early on "who had done it". The enjoyment for me, therefore, was not in the denouement itself, but rather than in the construction of a very complex storyline built upon the foundations of a known character, Alan Banks.
I would recommend this book most strongly to people who enjoy Ruth Rendell and P D James. Any suggestion that Elizabeth George is in the same league as either of these two authors or Peter Robinson is a complete mystery to me as I found "In Puruit of the Proper Sinner" wooden with extremely convoluted dialogue. But then again, that is only my opinion.
I am just grateful that I have many Peter Robinson novels still to read as they will give me many happy hours in the days ahead.
Most recent customer reviews
I've read more gripping crime stories, but it's a good read when nothing else is going on. I wouldn't highly recommend it though.Published 2 months ago by Bleeper
It was a little hard to get into, but well written and I enjoyed the endingPublished 3 months ago by Patricia Coker
Loved this book! The past woven into the present seamlessly. Not too much foreshadowing, the killer was a surprise. The introduction of Annie to the cast is a welcome character. Read morePublished 11 months ago by A. Hill
I loved this book and even took to reading it during the adverts on tv. It was quite sad when I got to the end but there are plenty more.Published on Jan. 15 2013 by valerie holmes
Mystery set in wartime Yorkshire. Setting and characterization very realistic. Bought it for American friend. No hesitation in recommending it. Read morePublished on May 20 2012 by smokey
I enjoyed the first half of this book and thought that perhaps it was in a different category from the others in the series, as the reviews suggested. Read morePublished on July 1 2001 by MrsMorland
The descripton on the back of this book led me to believe that it was going to be a very exciting and captavating book. Read morePublished on April 1 2001 by Melissa V
This book had been recommended to me, and this was the first time that I had read anything by this particular author. Read morePublished on March 18 2001 by K. L Sadler