Friday, March 20, 2009

Things are amiss on the English shore

A young woman named Hayley Daniels is found raped and strangled in Taylor's Yard, a narrow passage that leads from the town into the Maze.
In a neighboring town, not far from where the first body was found, at a place called Swanshead, the body of a quadriplegic woman is found by a man walking his dog. The woman has had her throat cut and is still in her wheel chair when found.
DI Annie Cabbott is on loan to the nearby town. She has just spent a night with a stranger she met at a bar. The man's youth and the quantity of liquor consumed during the night are indications of the turmoil Annie is feeling.
Annie is placed in charge of the investigation of the woman in the wheelchair and Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks heads the inquiry into Hayley's death.
Peter Robinson has written a wonderful character driven novel. The two investigations parallel each other and we learn much of the history of the two police officers. Their methodical, step by step investigations don't go anywhere until Annie finds the murdered quadriplegic is Lucy Payne, the wife of a mass murderer of young woman. Lucy may have been an accomplice in her husband's killing spree but as the police close in on him, he kills one of the police officers and is killed by the other police at the scene. Lucy jumps out of a window and is paralyzed.
DI Cabbott feels that the killer might be someone from the families of Payne's husband's victims who are seeking revenge.
Cabbott is a flawed person who seeks escape in alcohol and yet is an astute criminalist. She goes through Lucy's past and the victims of Lucy's husband and eliminates possibilities until she gets results.
While this is transpiring, DCI Banks continues searching for Hayley's killer within the town and the late night crowds in the village.
The reader learns much more than the steps to find the killers. We learn how dealing with these poor victims can even effect the lives of experienced police officers. So they need alcohol to release the horrors that they've seen? And what about personal relationships? Can someone seeking unmoral killers have the compassion and empathy in dealing with people they care the most about?
A well told tale by Robinson who has won many notable literary awards including the Edgar and the Anthony awards.
Highly recommended.

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