Moving his ever dependable Yorkshire-based copper, Alan Banks (Final Account, 1995, etc.), to the periphery of this work, the equally dependable Robinson focuses instead on the tragic plight of a possibly innocent man charged with murder. In the process, Robinson adds another level of nuance to his already fully dimensioned fiction and takes a quantum leap as a writer. A schoolgirl is murdered on church ground. Her school bag is left open, and her clothes are disturbed. The local vicar is already embroiled in a sex scandal, and his adulterous wife is wandering drunkenly through the grounds when the body is found. Without a decent motive, but with a plethora of damning evidence, Banks is led to one Owen Pierce, a moody young schoolteacher. Pierce is revealed as a man with enough minor aberrations in his life to fashion a believable criminal. His smutty tastes in literature, photography and teenage women invite easy condemnation, and he is further burdened with a past lover who nurses a deep grievance against him. If Banks has occasionally appeared a shade too decent and placid in past works, this eighth appearance finds him with a new, sharper edge. Banks is still a kindly enough soul, but he knowingly occupies a world that has suddenly become more richly treacherous. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1996 Release date: 08/01/1996 Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 385 pages - 978-0-425-15779-4
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