Only discovered these recently. Picked up one or two from the library and thought I would give them a whirl and found myself really enjoying them. Usual scenario of course, divorced detective now living on his own etc etc but this doesn't worry me any more, this marital set up is a given in this genre.
I have now read several of them and have found them well plotted, well written and well characterised. Won't say that I rushed out to read them all in one mad binge as I normally do, but they are ones I now keep an eye out for and was also pleased when the latest one Watching in the Dark was sent to me and very good it was too. My sister loves these books so when I mentioned in passing that I had the latest Inspector Banks she said oh yes please and it is now residing in her book case.
So as I said good stuff, but not world shattering until I picked up In a Dry Season in a local charity shop, 20p - a bargain I am sure you will agree and sat down with my morning coffee and book. And there I stayed for the next two hours as I read solidly totally unable to put it down so engrossed was I. It all starts with a young boy exploring an old reservoir under which lurked the remains of a village engulfed in the waters many years ago. No surprise for readers when he stumbles across a skeleton and as it is buried and covered over with slate it is clear that it was hoped it would never be found.
Tke skeleton is that of a young woman in her twenties and research indicates she was murdered just after the Second World War. So Inspector Banks and DC Annie Cabot start tracing her life and who she is and how she met her death. I am giving nothing away by telling you that her name was Gloria, she was a Land Girl sent to a remote Yorkshire village and there she met and fell in love with Matthew who she married and who then went off to war.
In a Dry Season has one of my favourite forms of narrative, the shifting backwards and forwards in time, between Gloria's life and back to today. The description of the war time life in a remote village is fascinating and beautifully drawn: "we held the reception in the church hall....we only got two ounces of tea which we had to eke out with some of our own ration to make it drinkable. Luckily our first American food on lend-lease had just arrived in the shop so we had Spam for sandwiches, and tinned sausage meat, which was wonderful for making sausage rolls because you could also use the fat left in the tin to make the pastry"
It is clear that though Gloria's parents were killed in the Blitz in London and that she is all alone in the world, she has a secret in her past which she wishes to keep hidden and the reader, beguiled by Gloria's warmth and loving attitude to life, is left wondering if this is all on the surface and will something nastier emerge? You are never sure and when a band of Americans arrive at the local air base and relationships grow between them and the villagers I found I was wondering all the time what was going to happen next.
I thought this was far and away the best of all the Peter Robinson books that I have read so far. OK I have about another eight or nine to read but this particular title stood out for me. As with Reginald Hill whose earlier books I found fairly banal and uninteresting, my first foray into DCI Banks made me feel the same - perhaps this was the book when he hit his stride. I know that Death's Jest Book by Hill seemed to me to take a gigantic leap forward in terms of narrative and depth and, without wishing to descent into hyperbole, wonder if In a Dry Season fits the same bill. I have no idea at all, obviously, but it is wonderful when a book really grips you in the way this one has.
Have noted that out of the 36 reviews over on Amazon, 27 of them are five star. Well deserved say I.