cover image Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

Peter Robinson. Avon Books, $22 (309pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97580-8

The twin specters of drugs and racism haunt this ninth entry (which follows Innocent Graves, 1996) in the Inspector Alan Banks series of Yorkshire-based crime novels, one of the best collections of procedurals extant. Neo-Nazi sympathizer Jason Fox is beaten to death outside a pub after a verbal altercation with three Pakistani youths inside the premises. Fox was the computer expert for the right-wing Albion League, whose leader, Motcombe, deals drugs to blacks for profit. Yet Fox was reputed to abhor drugs. The evidence against the three boys remains slight, but there are clear and sinister signs of a power struggle taking place within the League, the activities of which are apparently being scrutinized by some higher-up authorites than the local CID. In the middle of the investigation, Banks's wife asks for a separation. Isolated and increasingly unhappy, Banks finally gets around to decking his odious superior, Chief Constable Riddle, while his loyal DC Susan Gay gets herself a suspiciously perfect new fella before she realizes where her affections truly lie. Banks, on a surreptitious trip to Amsterdam, learns about the undercover operation that his investigation of the Albion League endangers. Delivering all, and more, that procedural fans wish for, Robinson seamlessly meshes investigative details, setting and character. The measured effectiveness of his prose and the increasingly complex life of Inspector Banks make this an ever more compelling series. (Dec.)