Inspector Alan Banks and his on-again-off-again partner and lover, Annie Cabbot, make flawed but empathetic heroes in Friend of the Devil, Robinson's 17th suspense novel to feature the Yorkshire policeman.
As a writer who has lived on both sides of the Atlantic, what differences do you see between British and American crime fiction?
The differences used to be much more obvious, with the hard-boiled, urban U.S. approach versus the more cerebral, rural British one, but these days there are both U.S. mysteries set outside the big cities and hard-boiled U.K. urban crime novels, so it's not always easy to separate them. Probably the main thing remains guns. Since most British police do not carry guns on a day-to-day basis, Banks couldn't walk into a dangerous situation with his gun drawn.
What made you decide to revisit the Lucy and Terry Payne case from Aftermath in Friend of the Devil?
When I write a book, I often leave loose ends, and sometimes these come back to haunt me. That was the case with Aftermath. I had no idea this was going to happen, because I'm not a planner or an organized writer in any way. I don't even know the identity of the killer until I get near the end, and I certainly have no idea where the series is going from one book to the next.
How did you come to set the Inspector Banks series in the fictional Yorkshire town of Eastvale, instead of a larger city?
I wanted the best of both worlds. My Eastvale is large enough to have its fair share of crime, and it's also close to large towns and cities, such as Leeds and York, and also country villages, which we all know from Sherlock Holmes are often more dangerous than cities.
Do you ever have the urge to leave Banks behind and try another stand-alone novel or short story collection?
Absolutely. And I think I will as soon as the right idea comes along and grabs me. I'm having fun writing about Banks right now because he's at an interesting time in his life and has become a much more introspective and melancholy character. I do write a few short stories every year, and they make a nice break.
What's next for Banks and Cabbot?
Number 18 is on its way, beginning with an apparent murder-suicide and interspersed with the journey of a woman from 1945 Berlin to England in the '70s. I hope it all comes together in the end!