In his last outing (Playing With Fire ), Insp. Alan Banks nearly died when a serial killer set fire to his cottage in the Yorkshire village of Eastvale, and the melancholic detective remains understandably depressed as this superlative 15th novel in the series gets underway. Living in a rented flat, Banks is struggling to put his life back together when an urgent phone message from his younger brother, Roy—a successful, slightly shady London businessman—requests his help: "It could be a matter of life and death.... Maybe even mine." When he can't reach Roy by phone, Banks travels to London to see what's wrong and finds his brother's house unlocked and no hint about where he might have gone or why. On the night of Roy's phone call, a young woman is shot to death in her car just outside of Eastvale, and she has Banks's name and address in her pocket. Annie Cabbot, Banks's colleague on the force (and a former lover), is in charge of that case, and her investigation quickly intersects with Banks's unofficial sleuthing into his brother's inexplicable disappearance. The gripping story, which revolves around that most heinous of crimes, human trafficking, shows Robinson getting more adept at juggling complex plot lines while retaining his excellent skills at characterization. The result is deeply absorbing, and the nuances of Banks's character are increasingly compelling. Agent, Dominick Abel. (Feb. 15)
Forecast: Robinson's reputation in the States (he is English and lives in Canada) continues to build. With the help of a big marketing campaign and an eight-city author tour, this could be a breakout novel for him.
Release date: 02/01/2005