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Standing in the Shadows by Peter Robinson - Review

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

You may know that I love the DCI Banks books and have done for years. I think I've read most of them, but I haven't read many of the later ones because I've just got out of the habit of them. I was really saddened when Peter Robinson died though because it meant there would be no more books! I had been meaning to get around to reading this, the last one, because I feel like I owed it to the author and the character! My mum has read all of them and she recommended this, so I finally got round to it. I requested it at the library and when it came it was the large print version - does this mean I'm officially old now? 

In a way it is really sad that this is the last one because I would have liked to see Banks retire and take up a life of whiskey and listening to vinyl all the time, having served his time and more and having had a good career. Plus, Annie Cabot is barely in this book because in previous ones her dad Ray has died and she is taking some time off. I am not totally up to date on what has happened there, but it's briefly explained in this book. But it would have been nice to have Annie back working on Banks' last case. It's not Peter's fault, of course! I just feel sad about it!

This book has two different strands of story, which of course are going to cross over but the reader doesn't find out how until just towards the end of the book. The first strand is set in the early 1980s, in Leeds. Nick is a student at the university and his ex girlfriend, Alice, is found killed. They had split up after six months together and she had started to go out with a man called Mark when she was killed. The body has been found near where a victim of the Yorkshire Ripper was found just a few weeks previously, and at first police think the murder may be the work of the Ripper. They interview Nick but soon discover there's no way he could be the Ripper, but they still consider whether he killed Alice or not. Nick himself suspects Mark, but Mark has completely disappeared. Nick lives in a big house that has been split into bedsits, and Alice lived in the top floor flat. Her parents come to get her stuff and invite Nick to the funeral. Mostly he is upset, and also wants to work out what happened to Alice. This strand of story is really evocative of the early 80s around Leeds University and the fear around the murders that the Yorkshire Ripper did. 

Meanwhile, an archaeologist finds a body in a field near the A1. The field belongs to a farm which has been bought in order for the road to be widened and for a new shopping centre to be built. First, though, archaeologists are digging on the off chance that there are Roman remains nearby. This body, though, is nowhere near as old as that. The police are called in. They reckon the body was dumped around 2016, and is that of a sixty year old man. The police are drawing total blanks, but they are interested when they discover that the owner of the farm is an ex copper. 

There's also stuff which was quite current at round about the time that Peter must have been writing this book, which was about the undercover cops who had relationships with people under false pretences. It's really interesting and very topical and I liked the way it all came out at the end.

In all I'm giving this four out of five because I really liked it and enjoyed being back in Eastvale with Banks and co. 

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