three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
16-May-June-2005
user_rating: 
0

A Novel of Suspense (Inspector Banks Mysteries)

A-StrangeAffairIn the previous Chief Inspector Alan Banks novel, Playing with Fire, a psychopath nearly killed our headstrong protagonist after razing his house. In this 15th installment, Banks is slowly digging his way into depression in Yorkshire Dales when a desperate call from his estranged brother Roy interrupts his self-destructive path. Banks heads to London, finds that Roy has disappeared, and starts to examine his brother’s swanky life. Meanwhile, Banks’s colleague (and former lover) Annie Cabbot addresses the shooting of a young woman, a family planning center administrator, found dead with Banks’s name and address in her possession. As the stories intersect, Banks enters the world of conspiracy, violence, and corruption, with which is so familiar.
Morrow. 368 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0060544333

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Once again, Robinson shows he’s a master at weaving life issues of relationships, identity, and self-knowledge into the British police procedural. … Robinson excels in reaching into his characters’ souls to show their personalities." Oline H. Cogdill

[Raleigh] News & Observer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The introspective but usually unflappable Banks has never in 14 previous encounters seemed so vulnerable or close to the edge. … Despite a fast-moving story, some knockout scenery, and an assemblage of delicately drawn characters, this visit with Banks left me wondering if a minor character is right when she warns an exhausted, bewildered Banks at the end, ‘You still don’t get it, do you Mr. Policeman?’" Rod Cockshutt

New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Mr. Robinson stocks the book with chapter-ending cliffhangers, among other good reasons to follow his well-crafted story. His finishing stroke of evil is a startling one, even by these books’ standards of deviant behavior."
Janet Maslin

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Setting aside his fixations on breasts and Banks’s psyche, Robinson crafts a fast-moving, action-filled conclusion through the London streets. Braced with success, Banks is poised for his next adventure, sure to follow, along with more ale and rejection." Bob HooveR

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"It is heartening to see first-rate writers like Robinson … becoming, in effect, muckrakers, for ours is a world with an inexhaustible supply of muck that needs raking." Patrick Anderson

Critical Summary

Banks will ferret out the truth, no matter what rules he breaks. In this British police procedural, Robinson offers up a gritty plot with some introspective ruminations on self-identity and personal relationships. As Banks ("not your everyday quaffing plonk") evaluates his relationship with his high-living, shady brother, he examines his own vulnerabilities—heightened, of course, by his nasty divorce and near-death experience in the aforementioned fire. Robinson fleshes out compelling characters, but also comments on important social issues, from international arms dealings to women’s rights. It’s a good read, especially for its unpredictable depravities. "Alan has long known that there is no shortage of monsters in this world," writes the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "but Strange Affair reinforces that."