Thursday, June 18, 2009

Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson

I am a reader with pretty much eclectic tastes. Very often I start my reviews with this or that genre being one of my favorites and the reason behind it is that many genres are indeed ones I like the most. It would probably be easier for me to list the ones I don’t particularly like than the ones I do. A British detective murder mystery is yet another one of those I enjoy. The trick is to find new authors that I can add to ‘my favorites’ list and not limit myself to only the few tried and tested ones. I was lucky enough to find that new author while reading Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson.

Friend of the Devil is installment number 18 in the series featuring detectives Annie Cabot and Alan Banks. I guess with this one I started from the end and will be going up to the beginning, but it’s quite all right since even being a part of the series, it may as well be a stand-alone book. It starts off with two murders committed in different parts of North Yorkshire, England. First of them is a murder of a paraplegic who is found on Sunday morning sitting in a wheelchair with her throat cut. Detective Inspector Annie Cabot ends up being in charge of this investigation. Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks has another murder on his hands. This one is a rape/strangulation killing of nineteen-year-old Hayley Daniels. The two cases seem to be completely unrelated until another death occurs that might change the course of investigations. And Banks and Cabot have plenty of other personal issues to cope with besides the cases that are turning up zero results and more questions than answers. It turns out that Annie and Alan had been romantically involved before and are still trying to come to terms with their break-up and post-dating relationship that would not impact their professional lives.

I am an obsessive-compulsive reader who has to start any series from the beginning and has to have all the following books already on my shelves waiting for their turn. It was a wonder therefore that I started reading and continued on until the end Friend of the Devil, which is one of the latest books featuring Inspector Banks. When I started reading it I didn’t know that it was indeed a part of the series and then it just didn’t matter because the book was really good. All I was thinking instead was how lucky I was that I had seventeen more books written by Mr. Robinson waiting to be read. Friend of the Devil is such a good mystery because it’s quick paced, it has a lot of sharp dialogue, which I always enjoy, and the murders are true mysteries until the very end. The plot gets complicated but it’s not confusing at all and despite all the nuances and new developments, it was easy for me to follow the action and the investigations. Also, I really liked Annie Cabot. In general, I enjoy insight into personal lives of the detectives leading the stories and I got plenty of it in this book. Annie is just such a complex and at times really sad character that I just had to sympathize with her and cheer her on. She deals with demons from the past and mistakes from the present and how she does that makes her really identifiable and real. And so is the case with all major characters in this novel. As I read it I didn’t feel detached from them but I instead could easily imagine that there are people like detectives Banks and Cabot out there, in the real life. I would say that if you like murder mysteries by Elizabeth George or P.D. James, there’s a good chance that you’ll enjoy Peter Robinson (unless you all read him and I’m the last person on earth who just discovered this author).