Sunday 14 January 2018

Books and tea on a chilly winter morning...

My steaming cup of chai tea is a welcome treat on this bright, chilly morning.  And I was hoping that the book I read last week would also be a welcome treat, but I was somewhat disappointed.

Sleeping in the Ground is Peter Robinson’s 24th “Inspector Banks” mystery, and if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you might remember that he is one of my favourite Canadian mystery writers.  I have read all of his books, even going back to read them in order after discovering his books and starting to read them mid-way through the series.  His latest book begins with a mass shooting at a wedding party in a cemetery just outside St Mary’s Church.  The gunman manages to escape and an investigation ensues.  Detective Superintendent Banks is called into the investigation shortly after returning home from the funeral of his first love, Emily Hargreaves, with whom he had a relationship 40 years earlier.  This death causes much reflection for our brooding detective, but he is forced to focus on the case at hand.  With five dead and four wounded, including a member of Banks’ team, DS Winsome, the search for the killer takes on a certain urgency, in the event that he kills again.  When the bride is a semi-famous model and the groom a military hero, certain questions arise:  Who was the real target?  Why at a wedding?  Was it personal, or was the target the institution itself?  Banks and his team follow the usual methods of uncovering clues and searching for suspects, and are rewarded in their efforts, only to discover the alleged murderer dead in his own basement, ostensibly the victim of suicide.  That should be the end of it, but there are certain things that just don’t add up.  When Banks, along with DI Annie Cabbot and DS Gerry Masterson, continue digging, they uncover clues that may connect it all to a decades’ old murder, but can they find the perpetrator before he claims yet another victim?  OK, this sounds good, and the opening scene is quite arresting, with the images offered to the reader coming straight from the shooter’s point of view.  And, like Martin Edgeworth (you’ll have to read the book to find out who he is!), this novel ticks off all the boxes.  But I felt that it was somewhat flat, lacking that zing that Robinson’s books often have, that certain je ne c’est quoi that leaves me feeling a little breathless and utterly satisfied once I reach the final page.  Granted, some of his novels are simply formulaic, like this one, but sometimes they really, hmmm, I think “shine” is the best way to describe it.  This one did not “shine” - it was rather ho hum in my opinion, but clearly I am in the minority, as I just read four or five reviews and they all rave about this book!  One of the things that really bugged me was that I couldn’t figure out where the title of the book fit in.  Who was “sleeping in the ground”?  Usually the titles are significant, or at least there is some connection to the story, but in this case, it seems tenuous at best.  And his usual character and/or relationship development also seemed to be lacking in this book. It was OK, but not one I would want to go back and reread just for fun.  But it did make me think about which of his novels I would gladly go back and reread anytime.  I loved the following books:  In a Dry Season (my first ever “Inspector Banks” novel), Aftermath, The Summer that Never Was, All the Colours of Darkness, and Children of the Revolution, and I loved the standalone Before the Poison.  I didn’t think this was one of his best, but if you are already a fan of Robinson and Alan Banks, then you should definitely read it.  

That’s all for today.  Stay warm and keep reading!

Bye for now…

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