“In The Dark Places” by Peter Robinson is a police procedural featuring British Inspector Alan Banks. An interesting side note is that in the UK and Canada the title is “Abattoir Blues,” based upon the song with the same name by the Australian alternative rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Because of the author’s love of music he always has some kind of reference to bands, songs, or lyrics.
The books open with an investigation of a stolen tractor, possibly insurance fraud. Yet, the investigation takes a dark turn when two of the suspected thieves go missing and blood is found in an abandoned hanger. After a truck careens off an icy road two bodies are found, one the driver and the other a missing person, chopped and bagged among the parcels of a meatpacking plant. The murder weapon of choice is a bolt gun as in “nuts and bolts.”
Robinson commented, “I remember telling my publisher I am starting the book with a stolen tractor. They did not find the idea very exciting at all. But of course it moves on to a story involving criminals and organized crime. Most of the true rural crime involves equipment, but I took it a little farther and had profit and smuggling involved. I also wanted to include some different facets of our culture so I discuss in detail the different types of bolt guns and ‘potholding.’ This is popular and dangerous because people go down these holes that are entries into underground cave systems that run under landscapes.”
As with most of his books a certain detective is highlighted and readers find out about the backstory. This novel can definitely be considered DS Winsome Jackman’s book. How she sees and experiences events are emphasized. She is athletic, English proper, very moralistic, tough, smart, and funny. Winsome is shy, awkward, and tentative in establishing personal relationships until she meets an English war veteran, Terry Gilchrist, who fought in Afghanistan, receiving the Military Cross and an honorable discharge after being severely wounded.
Robinson gave a heads up regarding his next books. No Cure For Love is a book published only in Canada in 1995, and was just recently released in the UK. It will be released in the US early next year. Set in Los Angeles, it has a forward by Michael Connelly since it is a crime novel based on the Threat Management Unit of the LAPD. This story has two detectives (neither Alan Banks) investigating threatening letters and phone calls of an English actress who plays an LA detective. The author noted he decided not to update it and is not against the idea of possibly writing this as a series. The other book published next summer will have as the main characters Detectives Banks and Gerry Masterson. The plot of When The Music’s Over involves the investigation of the rich and powerful that exploit the young.
“In The Dark Places” is an entertaining story about relationships, how there are consequences for someone’s actions, and how quickly a person can find they are underwater based upon their bad decisions.