In a Dry Season

by Peter Robinson

Library Journal Robinson's latest in the Inspector Banks series is actually two parallel stories: the brutal post-World War II murder of a young British woman and the solving of the crime some 40 years later. A major complication for the investigators is that the town where the murder was committed has been covered by a reservoir for decades, eliminating most physical traces of the crime. Banks must painstakingly piece together the spotty record of the townspeople long after most of them have moved to other areas or died of old age. Robinson switches back and forth from present-day sleuthing to the time of the actual murder, with the characters of both time periods well developed and complex. Robinson tells a compelling story of war-time England that rings true. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/99.]ńCaroline Mann, Univ. of Portland Lib., OR

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School Library Journal YA-A fascinating whodunit. Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks is called to attend to a skeleton found in the ruins of a deserted village. Flooded by a reservoir shortly after World War II, Hobb's End had been under water until a recent drought exposed its remnants. Thanks to modern forensics, Banks and the local Detective Sergeant, Annie Cabbot, learn that the remains were those of a young woman who had been strangled and then viciously stabbed numerous times. An apparent 50-year-old crime faces Banks and Cabbot as they go about gathering facts in an attempt to determine the identities of the victim and her murderer. The charm of this story lies in the way it is played out. Readers are privy to the thoughts of the characters from 50 years ago as their story is told as it happened. Chapter by chapter, readers learn about life in a small village in England during World War II. Interspersed with these chapters are the investigations, interviews, and research conducted by the detectives in the present day. The traits and foibles of the townspeople take shape and a portrait of the victim emerges. Despite its length, mystery buffs will find this book an easy read, and they'll be left with some questions to ponder that would make for an interesting and lively book discussion.-Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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Library Journal Inspector Banks looks into a decades-old murder uncovered when drought drains lush Yorkshire's reservoir.

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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. (Apr.)

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