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In a Dry Season
Inspector Banks #10
Peter Robinson

William Morrow
August 2016/ ISBN 978-0062431257
Mystery / British / Detective

Reviewed by Leslie C. Halpern


Originally published in 1999 as the 10th in the best-selling Inspector Banks Novel series, this new William Morrow paperback release presents Banks in another creepy British mystery. This time, he’s deeply depressed after a divorce from his cheating wife, problems with his college-aged son who dropped out of school to pursue music, and reprimands at work for his behavior on the job. Intended as a punishment, Chief Constable Riddle assigns Banks with a 50-year-old dead-end case in Yorkshire where a skeleton has surfaced in a reservoir during a dry season, and forces him to work on the case with man-hating Detective Annie Cabbot, a new policewoman who was raped by her fellow officers.

Much to Riddle’s dismay, Banks uncovers surprising clues about the identity of the skeletal remains and links to the killer, who may still be alive after all these years. Riddle’s plan further goes awry when Banks and Cabbot not only get along as co-workers, but begin a love affair. Both desperately in need of healing, they offer comfort to each other personally and invaluable support professionally.

In addition to telling the current story of Banks and Cabbot, the author deftly weaves in the related story from the past about the victim (a beautiful young woman) and her relationships with her soldier husband, his jealous younger sister, a lonely artist, and a handful of American lovers. To tell the 50-year-old story, Robinson employs a technique that works beautifully: A best-selling mystery novelist shares pieces of her unpublished memoir that directly relate to the crime.

A perfectly paced story with complex, multi-layered characters, In a Dry Season provides enough clues to involve readers and keep them guessing without giving away too much. While rich with police procedures, there’s also a psychological component that’s very engaging. Readers will ask themselves questions about the motives of possible suspects from the past and possible suspects from the present, in addition to wondering about the motivations behind the behavior of Banks and Cabbot as they flesh out the details of this difficult case.

Reviewed 2016